Extending dental care to schools

By Haruki Ume ,

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‘PROTECT OUR TEETH’: Fagali’i Primary School students learn about maintaining healthy teeth.

‘PROTECT OUR TEETH’: Fagali’i Primary School students learn about maintaining healthy teeth.

Four staff members of the dental ward in Samoa visited Fagali’i Primary School on Monday.

This is part of their dental project which began in June last year. It is held every three months.

The visit focuses on teaching children ways of preventing tooth decay and the importance of maintaining healthy teeth. 

Since June, 30 students with tooth decay in Year 1 were monitored up until they reached Year 6. These students were taught various methods of preventing tooth decay. 

“Students who received dental care classes have less chance of getting tooth decay. And we gave an award to one little girl because she didn’t have any tooth decay in this project.  It helps to keep high motivations for children too,” says Dental Hygienist and Project Coordinator, Chie Orita.

Ms. Orita is a dental surgeon from Japan and is in Samoa to help local surgeons use dental machines and provide treatment. 

“Through the support of the principal, we were able to visit this school, this being the fourth visit.”

The project involves three main activities.  

“First we diagnose the children’s teeth and make a report for their parents about children’s teeth. If they need moderate tooth decay treatment, we provide saforide (drug used to prevent tooth decay) for them. 

“Second we teach them how to brush their teeth by using plaque tester which makes sure that students know which places in their mouths that they haven’t brushed nicely. 

“Third, we teach them how to rinse their mouths using fluoride, which helps to protect their teeth from the acids contained in the various sweet food and drinks they consume. We also gave the kids cups and tooth brushes at the end of the project.”

Ms. Orita said when she started working in the hospital, she saw children crying because they suffered from tooth decay. 

“When our permanent teeth grow, there’s a big risk of getting tooth decay. To reduce the children’s tooth decay, I thought not only should we focus on the treatment of tooth decay, but also its prevention because prevention is better than cure. That’s why I started the project.

“In the Pacific, tooth decay is one of the biggest problems because of lack of manpower, knowledge, skills and instruments. But this project will help promote preventative measures and possible solutions for Samoa.”

Ms. Orita will soon leave for Japan but she hopes the dental situation in Samoa will improve. 

“I have started a project for dental care. I wish children, teachers, dental staff and parents cooperate to protect children’s teeth. 

“I also hope this project will also include other grades in the future. Again, I don’t like to see children crying because of their tooth decay. 

“A little effort for the teeth makes a big difference in the future.”

© Samoa Observer 2016

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