DepEd, Colgate provide oral health care to public schools
Grade 1 pupils in 50 selected public elementary schools across the country will get preventive and curative dental services under the Department of Education’s program that seeks to address the high prevalence of oral health problems among school children.
In partnership with Colgate Palmolive Philippines, Inc (CPPI) which provided a fully-equipped dental van, the “Zero Cavity Mission Project” will bring dental supplies to the 50 selected schools in the next three years, starting this month.
“We hope that through this project, we can address oral health problems among our school children which is one of the leading causes of absenteeism and eventual dropping out from the rolls, “ said Education Secretary Armin Luistro.
Because tooth decay is considered a non life-threatening disease, some 97 percent of six-year old Filipino school children have poor dental habits, resulting to learning difficulty, a Nationwide Oral Health Survey (NOHS) initiated by the DepEd revealed.
This study conducted from November 2005 to Feb 2006 used random sample from 2,030 six-year old students and 2,022 twelve-year old students from the 17 regions in the Philippines. The study comprised of a clinical examination and a sociological survey.
The survey showed that each child had on average 3.4 teeth where the caries process had already reached the pulp, causing complications like swelling and pain, difficulties in eating, sleeping, concentrating on learning.
One of the survey findings offer a glimmer of hope however, as it showed that the school is the best place to institutionalize healthy habits.
Some pilot studies carried out in the country revealed that implementation of school based daily fluoride tooth brushing can reduce new dental caries by 40% and oral infections (fistulas and abscesses) by 60%.
DepEd has tapped school dentists and volunteer dentists from partner agencies in providing Grade 1 pupils with tooth brushing drills and oral health promotion activities.
“ These activities are expected to reinforce the 7’oclock tooth brushing habit currently being implemented in schools which we consider an effective tooth decay preventive measure,” Luistro added.
Among the services to be provided to pupils are restoration/filling, extraction, prophylaxis or cleaning and flouridization. There will also be oral and systemic health lecture for students and parents so that oral health care can be practiced and sustained in school and at home.
DepEd’s partnership with CPPI was made possible through the Adopt-A-School program which invites the private sector to fill up resource gaps in public schools as part of their corporate citizenship program.