Dentists decry rising cases of oral diseases


Medical representative at Pharmaken, Fredrick Mwanzia [left] shows one of the latest pieces of dental equipment is to Dr. Essa Harunani during Kenya Dental Association annual conference held at PrideInn Beach Hotel in Mombasa. [Omondi Onyango,Standard]

Oral and dental diseases are prevalent, the Kenya Dental Association (KDA) has said.

Yesterday, the dentists lobby group said patients suffering from gum disease, tooth decay and oral cancer seek medication when it is too late.

KDA President Timothy Theuri said 95 per cent of children under five suffer from gum disease, while 60 per cent of the population has experienced tooth ache or visited a dentist.

He said the population suffers a burden of oral cancer that affects the lining of the mouth and spreads to the neck. Most Kenyans are slow to see a dentist until it is too late and when the disease has spread.

Speaking on Thursday during the association’s 38th annual conference at the PrideInn Hotel in Mombasa, Dr Theuri called on the Council of Governors (CoG) to come up with policies that will see more dentists employed in county hospitals.

“We are not doing well, we have 1,500 registered dentists since independence, out of that number, 800 are in clinical practice and out of that 800, we have less than 400 in public service. So that means each county enjoys less than 10 dentists which is really a small figure,” said Theuri. The dentist urged the government to look into the issue of oral cancer that has been neglected for a long time.

He further said dentists are engaging with different stakeholders to come up with a national oral policy.

Adding that the doctors have not been involved in as far as the cancer board is concerned, the KDA president said oral diseases are preventable and curable if caught early, because the oral health and facial area allows for that.

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He said Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (Kemsa) should produce more dental products so that dentists from far-flung regions like Marakwet and Wajir are able to get the dental equipment to enable them serve the population with oral problems.

“I feel bad when I get a call from my grandfather because he doesn’t know where to get teeth and doesn’t know what to do... and we have to organise all those trips, because the local dentist available doesn’t have the materials to attend to dental patients,” said Theuri.

He said the National Hospital Insurance Fund should also factor in dental care as a primary package instead of an additional package.

Theuri said the dental package allocated to families is meagre to serve all the family members.

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