Healthcare: Kerala

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Oral diseases

2018: A steady increase

Salim Joseph, March 20, 2019: The Times of India

What is World Oral Health Day?
From: Salim Joseph, March 20, 2019: The Times of India

Fourteen out of one lakh people in Kerala are suffering from oral cancer, while 140 others are afflicted with precancerous diseases of the mouth, showed a recent survey conducted by the dental wing of state health services.

Also, over 90% of the state’s population is suffering from periodontal diseases affecting gums and bones supporting teeth and the diseases are in advanced stages in 55% of the population. Malocclusion or misalignment of teeth is prevalent in 35% of the child population, while birth defects involving orofacial complex is found in two out of 1,000 newborn babies.

Oral diseases increasing steadily in state: Survey

“Dental decay and gum diseases are the most common chronic diseases prevalent in state and these diseases with other conditions like oral cancer, pre-cancerous conditions and faulty occlusion have been neglected over the years, especially by underprivileged people,” said deputy director of health services Dr Simon Morrison.

According to the survey, dental caries or tooth decay is prevalent in 60-68% of Keralites, while dental fluorosis – affecting teeth enamel due to excessive intake of fluorides – remained endemic to Palakkad and Alappuzha.

The precancerous diseases include leukoplakia (white or grey patches on tongue, inner cheek, gums and floor of the mouth) and erythroplakia (red spots on mucus membrane). The study also revealed traumatic injuries to teeth in seven out of 100 cases, and such injuries to jaw in four out of 1,000 cases.

Untreated oral and dental diseases have been linked to infective endocarditis (affecting inner lining of heart chambers) leading to coronary artery diseases, atherosclerosis, lung diseases like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes, stroke, renal and dermatological diseases, Dr Morrison added.

Besides, pregnant ladies with severe gum diseases give birth to preterm and low birthweight babies, he said. “Burden of oral diseases is very high due to its frequent nature which shares a common risk with other non-communicable diseases. As a lifestyle modification, we should give up junk food and stick on to our own culture, rather than going after westernization,” he added.

Based on survey findings, the department has set a target of reducing the prevalence of dental caries in children (aged between 6 and 12) from 55-65% to 45-55% by 2020. Similarly, the idea is to reduce the prevalence of periodontal diseases in the 35-45 age group from 55% to 45%, Dr Morrison said.

“Besides, the department will be initiating measures under National Oral Health Programme to ensure an affordable, accessible and equitable oral healthcare delivery in a coordinated manner and bridge the gap in oral health accessibility between the rural and urban population,” he added.

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