KOTA KINABALU: Only three percent of the adult population in Sabah know how to effectively clean their mouth and teeth.
Senior Dentistry Officer for Kota Kinabalu, Dr Latifah Othman, said the remaining 97 percent of the Sabah adult population needed further instruction on how to effectively clean their mouth and teeth, as compared to 94.7 percent in Peninsular Malaysia and 84 percent in Sarawak.
Dr Latifah said that ineffective cleaning techniques had resulted in the high number of people in the country suffering from gum diseases (over 90 percent), while about eight percent of the population were toothless.
She believed that the high percentage of people suffering from tooth decay and gum disease in the country is due to their lackadaisical attitude in looking after the cleanliness of their teeth and mouth.
Out of every ten people in the country, nine suffers from gum disease, she said at the SM Luyang 1Student 1toothbrush programme.
“They do not see their teeth as assets that need to be looked after … studies have proven that people suffering from serious tooth decay have lower self-esteem and it impacts even their employability,” she said.
She explained that the government spent a lot of money on subsidies for dental treatment that were given to the people of the country.
The cost of filling a decayed tooth is RM30; the cost of scaling RM62 per person; and the cost of tooth extraction is about RM56 each.
“If people know that they can effectively clean their mouth and avoid problems such as tooth decay and gum disease and that they can keep their teeth for life, the money used for the subsidy can be used for other purposes,” she said.
Last year in Kota Kinabalu, there were a total of 16,891 decayed permanent teeth which underwent filling, while 2,120 teeth were extracted.
Dr Latifah also said that unlike the treated water in Peninsular Malaysia, the water supplied to households in Sabah (except for Kota Belud, Kudat and Beaufort) is not treated with fluoride – a chemical that, at a proper dosage, can help fight tooth decay by strengthening it.
She also mentioned that people should never take tooth decay issue lightly, citing death cases caused by infections from tooth decay, malformed facial features and others as reasons.
“There are 750 bacterias in our mouth so we need to clean it often.”
She encouraged people to brush their teeth with soft-bristled toothbrush and toothpaste with fluoride in the morning and at night as well as after each food intake.
To thoroughly clean our teeth, she encouraged brushing our teeth in front of a mirror.
“I also encourage people to floss,” she said.
by Jenne Lajiun.