Survey warns of oral health crisis


Three out of four children in Kenya suffer from gum disease, owing to poor hygiene, shows a new report on oral health.

According to the report, almost all adults (98.1 per cent) had signs of gum disease.

The first National Oral Health Survey indicates that besides gum diseases, half of the children have dental caries that have not been treated.

The report, released last week, shows that 23.9 per cent children have dental caries.

Also known as tooth decay or cavities, dental caries is a breakdown of teeth due to bacteria.

The report shows there is prevalence of dental caries among 5-year-olds (46.3 per cent).

“A small proportion (3.4 per cent) of the children had missing teeth due to cavities, while 0.5 per cent had filled teeth,” the report says.

According to the report, despite brushing of teeth being a common practice among children, the manner in which it is done is not effective, exposing them to dental problems.

The report says from the findings, the frequency of brushing teeth per day is low, therefore, increasing the risk of gum bleeding.

A larger proportion (7.9 per cent) of younger children had never brushed their teeth, compared to older children (2.6 per cent).

The report shows that 45.5 per cent of urban children, however, brush their teeth at least twice a day.

The survey also established that 95.5 per cent of the children brushed their teeth themselves.

Among adults, 36.9 per cent of the respondents brushed their teeth twice or more times in a day, while 43.1 per cent brushed their teeth once a day.

A total of 9.4 per cent brushed their teeth between two to six times per week, while 4.3 per cent said they had never brushed their teeth, according to the report.

The use of a toothbrush was identified as the most conventional method of cleaning teeth.

More adults (43.7 per cent) than children (38.2 per cent) used chewing sticks (mswaki) to clean their teeth.

Speaking at the launch of the report, Health Cabinet Secretary James Macharia said that there was need for people to go for frequent dental check-ups.

The report further states that about 30 per cent of the population aged between 65 and 74 years do not have natural teeth.