Students entering primary and secondary school for the first time will now need to be examined by a dentist, as the Ministry of Health steps up its campaign to encourage good oral health practices.
Health Minister John Boyce said that this would now be a requirement in the Child Immunisation Book, and was aimed at emphasising prevention and strengthening behavioural change.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the 13th annual Caribbean Dental Conference at the Accra Hotel on Wednesday, he??noted the linkage between oral health and general health, and submitted that this was best illustrated in the area of non-communicable diseases.
???It is indicated that oral diseases share common risk factors with the four leading chronic diseases ??? cardiovascular diseases, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases and diabetes. These are unhealthy diet, tobacco and excessive alcohol use. Poor oral hygiene is also a risk factor.???
He maintained that the burden of oral disease and other chronic diseases could be decreased simultaneously by addressing these common risk factors. ???Decreased intake of sugars and well-balanced nutrition prevent tooth decay and premature tooth loss. Tobacco cessation and decreased alcohol consumption can reduce risk for oral cancers, periodontal disease and tooth loss.???
By using these preventative strategies, the high cost of dental treatments could be reduced, Mr. Boyce added.??He urged the dental profession to rise to the challenge in the fight against non-communicable diseases by adopting ???a more transversal, inter-professional approach??? in its relations with other health disciplines.
This was especially important, he said, for professionals directly involved in oral health issues such as technicians in dental prosthetics and dental hygienists, as well as practitioners in fields such as diabetes, oncology, nutrition, pneumology, paediatrics and public health.