Filipinos have bad teeth
Filipinos have bad teeth


Newsfeed display by CaRP Have you ever noticed here that whenever a person smiles that it gets flashed across their face. The smile is enhanced when the teeth of the person is sparkling white, even well set and well maintained. However, in many cases they are not sparkling white teeth but rotten or missing a tooth or two in their smile…

This not only occurs in the poor fisherman’s smile who struggles everyday to feed his family but also includes the rich and famous. The list of people I noticed is not a short list but includes doctors, lawyers, carpenters, jeepney drivers, teachers, judges, TV actors, tri-sikad drivers, politicians, tricycle drivers, fishermen, friends, government bureaucrats, relatives, the young and old alike, the pretty, the beautiful and the ugly….. Filipinos are known all over the world as a smiling people. However, the state of their teeth is not something to smile about.

Nine out of 10 Filipinos have cavities or dental caries, the leading health problem among public school children in the country, according to the Philippine Dental Association. Furthermore, Filipinos' oral health condition, PDA president Arsenio Donesa said that 92.4 percent of Filipinos have dental caries.

The National Monitoring and Evaluation Dental Survey conducted by the Department of Health (DoH) in 1998 showed that "dental caries is probably the most prominent disease affecting Filipinos." This same study revealed that some Filipino family members share one toothbrush, while some families do not even own a toothbrush.

Some health officials warn that bacteria could be transported from the tooth cavities to the heart and cause rheumatic fever. Bacteria can also travel to the brain, kidneys and liver and cause abscess. Personally I don’t if this statement is true or not. However with the Philippines situated in the tropical and humid climate as she is I wouldn’t chance it.

Our nephew Yak Yak is afraid of the dentist’s electric drill and he is especially frightened of sharp needle in the dentist’s hand… In fact I think he’d rather take a beating before see any dentist. I’ve seen his face swell up more then once and every time I ask, would he like to see a dentist. And he always answers by shaking his head no and telling me “No Uncle Chuck.” He is 28 years old with several teeth missing in front of his mouth. What a shame! But we encouraged him to brush his teeth daily which by the way now he does religiously.

Of course Yak Yak might be justified and have reason to be afraid. I’ve heard that some dentists here having only a wooden chair, motorcycle headlamp and use no Novocain. Further, it seems there are illegal dental practitioners within the country that poses a problem to patients and licensed dentists alike. If this is the case, I’d be frightened and scared as our nephew.

Filipinos commonly fear going to the dentist for the reason that of their fear of pain and needles. Many just will skip their visits until their faces are swollen. To scores of folks here the very thought horrifies them. It seems that many Filipinos have a toothache on a fairly regular basis but will absolutely refuse to go to the dentist. Their terrified of the pain of a dentist trip and would rather have the occasional pain from the cavity then have it filled.

Our 12 year old boy Junior knows he is in serious “BIG” trouble with his Mom if he doesn’t he doesn’t brush every morning before leaving home for his school day. And of course he is expected to brush his teeth before bed time or will he’ll face the wrath of my wife, Beng. It use to be struggle every night but now he gotten the picture. He has figured out it’s easier to brush then having his ears scorched by his Mom.

Which bring me to our 60 year old friend George. Ever since I’ve known George he never had one tooth in his head. Well, that’s not quite right, for the first two or three years I’ve known him he had one tooth positioned in the front upper gum. Several months ago I spotted that particular one tooth had disappeared leaving him with zero teeth. Whenever he smiled he looked like old Gabby Hayes who was the side kick of Roy Rogers in the old black and white western movies of my youth. This year George had some of his relatives visit him over from the states and they gave him brand new false teeth – upper and lower.

Now George is in a ponder with his new teeth hurting his gums and I’m sure he at some times would like to toss his new teeth away and go back as things were - with no teeth.

There are well meaning experts who stress the importance of brushing after meals and flossing. Those who do not have time to brush should at least gargle water. And advised people to eat more green leafy vegetables and foods that require more chewing to exercise the jaws and supporting tissues of the teeth.

I don’t pretend to have an answer; the answer probably is a combination of various variables. The lack of health and oral hygiene education, a person not having the funds to see a dentist when needed and the fear of pain and needles.

I wonder and question myself how to diminish the fear of dentists and improve a person’s daily oral hygiene. I don’t know if there is an answer, that’s the $64 question.

Chuck in Danao City
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Submitted: 09/29/06

Description: Have you ever noticed here that whenever a person smiles that it gets flashed across their face. The smile is enhanced when the teeth of the person is sparkling white, even well set and well maintained. However, in many cases they are not sparkling white teeth but rotten or missing a tooth or two in their smile…

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