Monday, 19 February 2018

Oral health promotion through schools

Oral health is fundamental to general health and well being. In this document guidelines are given on how to assist school and community leaders to improve health and education of children and young people. The schools can provide a supportive environment for promoting oral health; school policies and education for health are imperative in the attainment of oral health and control of risk behaviours related to diet and nutrition, tobacco use and excessive alcohol consumption.

Oral health enables an individual to speak, eat and socialise without active disease, discomfort or embarrassment. Oral health is fundamental to general health and well being, significantly impacting on quality of life. It can affect general health conditions. Oral health means more than healthy teeth. The health of the gums, oral soft tissues, chewing muscles, the palate, tongue, lips and salivary glands are also significant.

Why is oral health important ?

Poor oral health can have a detrimental effect on children’s performance in school and their success in later life. Children who suffer from poor oral health are 12 times more likely to have more restricted-activity days including missing school than those who do not. More than 50 million hours annually are lost from school due to oral diseases. While tooth decay (dental caries) and gum disease (inflammatory periodontal disease) are among the most prevalent or widespread conditions in human populations, other conditions such as trauma of teeth and jaws, dental erosion, developmental enamel defects and oral cancer are also important. Premature loss of deciduous (milk) teeth may lead to malalignment of the permanent (adult) teeth, impacting on an individual’s appearance. Importantly, tooth loss can affect children’s nutritional intake and, consequently, their growth and development.

There are also important links between oral health and general health. For example, gum disease is associated with general health conditions such as heart disease and diabetes. Similarly, those with complex health problems are sometimes at greater risk of oral diseases that, in turn, further complicate their overall health. Some diseases of the mouth and oral lesions may be the first signs of some life threatening diseases, such as HIV/AIDS.

Why focus efforts through schools ?

The school provides an ideal setting for promoting oral health. At the global level, approximately 80% of children attend primary schools and 60% complete at least four years of education, with wide variations between countries and gender. In some countries, more than 50% of children aged 7 to 14 years are out of school and less than 20% complete the first grade due to exploitation of child labour. Nonetheless, schools remain an important setting, offering an efficient and effective way to reach over 1 billion children worldwide and, through them, families and community members.

Schools can provide a supportive environment for promoting oral health.More importantly, schools may be the only place for children, who are at the highest risk of dental disease, to have access to oral health services. This is particularly true in many developing countries, compounded by a lack of dental personnel. With adequate training, school teachers can play an important role in oral health activities.

Trinity Care Foundation Oral Health Program supports oral health promotion and dental disease prevention in school-based programs for students in low-income schools from 1st standard through 10 standard [ 6 yrs to 16 yrs].

If you intended to partner or support this public health dentistry initiative in Karnataka state, India, Write ✍️ to [ ]

Trinity Care Foundation has the Trust registration, PAN, TAN, 12A, 80G, Professional tax and FCRA. It is registered with NITI Ayog, Government of India. It is National Health Mission Partner in Karnataka, India.

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