Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC) has called on parents and schools to encourage children to develop the culture of taking care of their teeth at an early age in a bid to contain rising cases of tooth and gum diseases.
RBC cited the sensitisation as critical in addressing school absenteeism among children as well as containing cases adulthood teeth losses.
Dr Gilles Ndayisaba, the head of Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs) at RBC, said that the understanding and practice of teeth hygiene is still critically low.
Official data from RBC shows that mouth diseases are the leading cases of morbidity in hospitals.
It shows that 131,970 cases of mouth diseases were recorded in 2016, representing 18.5 per cent of all morbidity cases in hospitals.
“A healthy mouth and healthy teeth are important for children’s development and learning and lead to permanent healthy teeth. Therefore, children should be sensitised on teeth brushing routine when they are still young, “he said.
A 2015 study conducted by SOS Children’s Village, in collaboration with Dental Health Without Borders under Basic Package of Oral Care (BPOC) programme, revealed that half of Rwandan school-children have problems or pain in their mouths and teeth.
Two thirds of the students bleed from their gums and half suffer from tooth decay, it added.
Beata Mukabahire, the School based Oral Health and Hand Washing Programme Manager at SOS Children’s Village, said that within two years of operation they managed to improve school based fluoride tooth brushing which led to 40 per cent reduction in new tooth decay among students.
“Students spend more time at school than in their homes. Therefore, such practices should be extended to all. Schools should allow children to brush at least once a day as a group activity and supervised by a teacher,” she argued.
On the other hand, ten Weinberg Normark, the BPOC Project Manager said that tooth brushing should go hand in hand with hand washing several times a day in a proper manner.
This can be helpful to break the cycle of germs and bacteria to reduce spreading infectious diseases like respiratory infections and diarrhea.