7 Million Filipinos Have Never Visited the Dentist
- According to the WHO and the DoH, 98% of Filipinos have dental caries, or a form of tooth decay.
- 53% admit to visit dentists only when they experience pain.
- The Philippines has the most number of denture wearers in Asia with a total of 9 million denture wearers.
Around 7 million Filipinos, or seven percent of the population, have never been to a dentist, even as 98% of Filipinos have dental caries, or any kind of dental decay which may range from permanent stains to actual teeth damage.
These alarming figures were revealed in studies yesterday (June 21) by an official of the Philippine Prosthodontic Society (PPS) and executives of GlaxoSmithKline(GSK), makers of Polident.
Polident and PPS have been cooperating to bring denture consultations closer to Filipino denture wearers in order to promote proper denture care.
According to a study conducted by research and marketing company Ipsos Southeast Asia, around 7 million Filipinos have never been checked by a dentist.
Moreover, among those who have visited their dentist, 53% admit to only visiting their dentist if their dental health issue gets too painful or difficult to bear and to not going to their follow-up check-ups.
This contributes to the huge number of denture wearers in the country, around 9 million Filipinos, the highest incidence of denture wearing in Asia, according to the study “Oral Care U&A: Market Understanding Study Middle East & Asia’’ conducted by Ipsos Marketing for GlaxoSmithKline(GSK) in 2014.
Dr. Danny Magtanong of the Philippine Prosthodontic Society (PPS) said the Filipinos’ low rate of dental visits is caused by both intrinsic an extrinsic reasons.
‘’Of course, a family’s social standing plays a big part in whether they would visit the dentist or not. Most of this 7 million is composed, in fact, of families in the lower income bracket. A huge part of this is the misconception that going to the dentist is expensive. However, local governments offer dental care services to families,’’ said Dr. Magtanong.
For those who have visited a dentist, majority admit to consulting only when their dental health issue becomes too painful or too difficult to bear. Regular dentist consultations are important in developing correct oral healthcare practices. Unfortunately, such behavior is limitedly seen in the country, where millions of patients do not seek for professional advice. According to the same study, this behavior amongst Filipinos is the top reason behind the 9 million denture wearers in the Philippines, the highest number in Asia.
Moreover, Dr. Magtanong said that denture acquisition, particularly of partial dentures, has increased over the years. “I would say that the number of denture wearers really increased through the years due to high incidence of caries in the country. Many Filipinos have damaged teeth.” Dr. Magtanong explained.
According to DoH’s NMEDS survey from 2011, of the 98% affected with dental caries, almost half have gum disease.
“Since 1995, the incidence of dental caries is as high as 98% and it has not gone down since —this lack in improvement is an indication that the government, and the dental profession in general, are not doing its job, but everyone is trying. Dental caries can range from permanent stains on teeth to actual fissures on teeth,” said Magtanong.
“Adding to that fact is the removal the separate Bureau of Dental Health Services from DOH. That is one cause for the lack of updated dental statistics and data. To that effect, other institutions like the UP College of Dentistry have stepped up to fulfill the roles of the defunct agency—conducting data and research as well. Fortunately we are making great progress,” said Magtanong.
Magtanong said that the PPS have made steps three years ago to lobby for the e-establishment of the Bureau of Dental Health Services. They are hopeful that with the new administration coming, they could resume the efforts.
The Philippines is not the only country suffering heavily from oral and dental health problems. According to the 2012 Oral Health Fact Sheet of the World Health Organization in 2012, nearly 100% of adults and 60 to 90% of school children have dental caries around the world, and the numbers have changed little since.
For denture wearers, dental visits are even fewer and further between. Most denture wearers think that oral health care ends at the final fitting of their dentures and that consulting their dentists again is not necessary.
According to Dr. Magtanong, most denture wearers do not understand that acquiring dentures is only the start of the journey. In fact, denture wearers must visit their dentists at least twice a year and they must develop a regimen that they will strictly follow to make sure they do not go through the common problems that arise from improper denture care. Improper denture care, according to Nick Newall and Rachel Kern in their study “The Emerging Consumer Denture Journey”, includes use of alternatives like toothpaste in cleaning their false teeth.
“Even denture wearers can be prone to not visiting their dentist even if their dentures need to be readjusted. Many insist on using home remedies such as rewiring their dentures or using instant glues to fix issues with their dentures instead of coming to their dentist’s clinic. Due to laziness and the misconception that it will be more expensive, they are prone to trying to solve their own denture issues. However, this wears out the dentures, as well as causes health issues such as mouth ulcers, excess gas in the stomach, and worn-out gums,’’ Dr. Magtanong added.
Heather Pelier-General Manager, GSK Consumer Healthcare said Polident aims to educate the public on the proper maintenance of dentures to allow them to pursue regular activities such as speaking and eating without fear. Polident denture care products include Polident Denture Adhesive Cream which helps secure dentures properly for up to 12 hours and seals off gaps to stop food particles from entering the dentures, while Polident Denture Cleanser is formulated to clean dentures, remove stains and kill 99.99 percent of odor-causing particles. With proper oral hygiene and denture care products like Polident, it is now possible for denture wearers to eat, speak, and smile with confidence.