The Great APO Outreach of 2013

By:  Melanie Joan Bergonio

In 2009, I read an article on the status of the oral health of the Filipinos.  It said that it was at an alarming state.  The National Oral Health Survey back then revealed that 97 per cent of first-graders in public schools in the Philippines suffer from tooth decay.   Programs, through the Department of Education, were initiated in most public schools.  Oral health, beginning with brushing of the teeth, and hand washing were taught and incorporated with the curriculum at most schools to curb the incidence of cavities.

In my opinion, promoting a healthy diet, daily brushing of the teeth and a visit to the dentist twice a year may just do the trick. Sadly, brushing is not a habit in most public school students’ households. More so, they don’t even have enough for toothbrushes and toothpastes.

The National Oral Health Survey found the highest caries index to be in families living in the highly urbanized areas where soda and junk food are easily available. Caries in the more rural areas tend to be lower probably due to the lower demand for processed food and sweets. The abundance of fiber in the form of fruits and vegetables also helps protect teeth and make gum disease less prevalent.

Cavities are formed by a triad of bacteria, sugar and a susceptible tooth structure. Our primary goal is to rid our patients of these, whether as a dentist or as an orthodontist, especially during treatment.

In line with our drive to improve the oral health of public school students, The Association of Philippine Orthodontists, together with the Luz C. Macapanpan (LCM) Foundation, and Unique/ACS Manufacturing Corportation in coordination with the Ateneo Center for Educational Development (ACED), launched the “NGITI MO, SAGOT KO” outreach program last Nov. 20, 2013.

From 8:00am to 1:00pm, at the MANUEL L. QUEZON ELEMENTARY SCHOOL (MLQES) in Barangay Commonwealth, Quezon City, 37 dentists from both the APO and the LCM foundation, led by APO President Dr. Laarni Serraon, demonstrated to 338 students how to properly brush their teeth.

Multiple flipcharts, dental models, toothbrushes and toothpastes were distributed among volunteer dentists so simultaneous orientations can be conducted. Oral hygiene instructions were given to groups of 50 kids at one time. It would have been more effective if the children were in smaller groups and an animated video would have helped catch the kids’ attention, too.

With this outreach, we aim to promote better oral hygiene among our public school students through information and illustration thereby doing our part in helping the society.

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