He said this during at the Oral Health Day Commemoration held at Lobatse on Tuesday, held under theme, ‘Let us Think Mouth, Think Health’. He said reports from local oral health facilities indicate tooth decay and gum diseases as the top most prevalent oral diseases affecting school children and adults. He pointed out that despite being easily preventable, those diseases still cause suffering to majority of the local population. “Oral diseases are significant non communicable diseases (NCDs). With untreated tooth decay being the single most prevalent and preventable disease, and oral cancer among the 10 most common cancers globally. The modifiable risk factors of oral diseases include an unhealthy alcohol consumption and poor oral hygiene,” he noted. He further highlighted that those risk factors were also shared with most of the other major NCDs. Madigele explained oral conditions were the fourth most expensive to treat. He therefore pointed out that awareness raising and early detection were vital in reducing costs that may be incurred treating oral diseases and conditions.
practising good oral hygiene as well as cutting down on tobacco use and intake of alcohol will go a long way in preventing dental diseases,” he said.
According to the World Dental Federation, oral diseases are amongst the most common chronic diseases. Madigele stated that oral diseases affect 3.9 billion people globally and have a significant impact on individuals, communities, health systems, economies and society at large. He said consequences of oral diseases on individuals were both physiological and psychosocial.
He added that the World Health Organisation (WHO) reports that tooth decay affects between 60% and 90% of both the youth and adult populations worldwide. He emphasised that severe gum disease, which may result in tooth loss was found in 15% to 20% of middle-aged (35-44 years) adults. Globally, about 30% of people aged between 65 years and 74 years are said to have no natural teeth.
According to the acting director at the Department of Public Health, Thato Sengwaketse, the need to establish government oral health services was conceived in 1971 with the recruitment of one dentist from the United Kingdom. She explained that the provision of services therefore started with one dental clinic at Princess Marina Hospital in 1972 where later, a second dentist was recruited in 1973. “In the same year of 1973, training of dental therapists started at the then National Health Institute in Gaborone and these graduated in 1976. The training of dental therapists was then formalised based on the WHO principles of the need to put emphasis on prevention programmes,” she said.