Kigali March 20, 2023. Rwanda joined the world in celebrating the World Oral Health Day on march 20, 2023 to raise global awareness on issues around oral health and the importance of oral hygiene; this year’s theme is, “Be proud of your mouth” The day was officially celebrated at Kacyiru Primary School in Kigali City.
Oral diseases are the most common Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) and affect people throughout their lifetime, causing pain, discomfort, disfigurement and even death. The burden of oral diseases is compounded by its association with other Non-Communicable Disease (NCDs), such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, respiratory diseases and some cancers as well. It is mostly driven by common risk factors including tobacco, alcohol consumption and unhealthy diets.
The WHO Global Oral Health Status Report (2022) estimated that oral diseases affect close to 3.5 billion people worldwide with 3 out of 4 people affected living in the middle-income countries. Globally, an estimated 2 billion people suffer from caries of permanent teeth while 514 million children suffer from caries of permanent teeth.
Locally, the Rwanda NCDs step survey 2021 indicated that 57 percent of Rwandans have never received dental care or visited a dentist while only 11.5 percent have seen a dentist in the last 12 months.
A history of pain or trouble with teeth or gums was reported by 92.8 percent of respondents as the main reason they visited a dentist in the past 12 months while less than 1 percent visited a dentist for routine check-up treatment. In oral hygiene, 67 percent of Rwandans clean their teeth at least once a day but the percentage falls to 19.3 percent for those cleaning their teeth at least twice a day. A toothpaste is the most used product to clean teeth (86 percent of those who clean their teeth).
However, oral health affects the quality of life and is linked to overall health and the growing burden of oral diseases demands action on an individual, family, and community level. To commemorate the day, Rwanda Biomedical Centre and oral health stakeholders have conducted various oral health activities including screening during the car free day, community outreach campaigns in public schools and donated hygienic materials and screened students.
They organize live radio and TV talk shows, awareness messages through social media and other communication channels. The day brings life to the notion of mouth serving as a mirror to the body and reflecting general health. The day also aims at motivating individuals to value and take of their mouth by taking specific actions to prevent oral diseases, therefore safeguarding their overall health.