Sugar intake causing gum, teeth diseases, new survey reveals
Teeth diseases are on the rise as sugar consumption and poor oral hygiene affect Kenyans.
At least 34 per cent of adult Kenyans suffer from tooth decay while 41 per cent of children have brown teeth.
Almost the entire adult and children population suffer from gum diseases, according to the Kenya National Oral Health Policy 2022-30.
Other diseases such as oral cancer are on the rise mainly due to changing lifestyles, leading to the intake of high-sugar foods and poor oral health.
The high level of dental diseases and conditions could also be attributable to modifiable risk behaviours such as consumption of foods high in refined sugars, harmful traditional practices and habits and, tobacco and alcohol use.
A survey conducted by the Ministry of Health indicates that 17.4 per cent and 19.8 per cent of the adult population reported the use of tobacco and alcohol, respectively.
“One in every two children aged five years suffers from tooth decay. Dental health afflicts huge economic burden on individuals, families, societies, and healthcare systems,” observed Dr Patrick Amoth, Director of Health Services.
Kenyans going for regular dental checks are relatively low, with knowledge of the value of oral health poor among the general population, according to the report.
In 2019, according to the report, the number of registered dentists was 12,886, translating to a Dentist: Population ratio of 3:100,000, highlighting the gaps present in curbing dental health issues.
Globally, 45 per cent or 3.5 billion people suffer from oral diseases, with three out of every three affected persons living in low- and middle-income countries, according to the World Health Organisation.
According to the recently published report Global Oral Health Status Report, WHO acknowledges that many people do not have access to the prevention and treatment of oral diseases.
“Oral health has long been neglected in global health, but many oral diseases can be prevented and treated with the cost-effective measures outlined in this report,” said WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus.