Abu Dhabi: Preventable tooth decay, otherwise known as dental caries, is the most prevalent chronic condition among children and adults, affecting more than 80 per cent of the UAE population, Gulf News has learnt.

With that in mind, a pilot project initially targeting children was recently implemented by the Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (Seha) Ambulatory Healthcare Services (AHS) to test oral hygiene among school children. The results were not flattering.

Dr Ninette Banday, head of dental services at AHS and restorative dentist and implantologist, explained that most of the 200 Emirati students in the second grade suffered from poor oral hygiene and lack of awareness of such.

"Tooth decay is an infectious disease caused by a micro-organism which affects the teeth, causing loss of tooth structure and eventually loss of the tooth itself, which has affected children as young as five whose baby teeth were even affected. This led us to feel[ing] strongly about increasing awareness regarding dental hygiene instead of replacing a tooth and undergoing bone augmentation at an older age," Banday told Gulf News.

Banday said the project's findings encouraged the Seha-AHS to bring health care to the community's doorstep, including provision of specialty care and awareness campaigns advocating a wide range of medical and dental must-dos.

According to a community study launched by the National Centre for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion in the United States, tooth decay is largely preventable but remains the most common chronic ailment among children aged between five to 17 years. It is five times more common than asthma (59 per cent versus 11 per cent).

Many adults also have untreated dental caries, with the condition affecting 27 per cent of those in the 35 to 44 year age group, and 30 per cent in the 65 year and older age group. The pain and suffering associated with untreated tooth decay can lead to problems in eating, speaking, and affect attention in classrooms.

Early prevention aimed at lessening the huge burden on the UAE adult community constitutes the SEHA-AHS mission - keeping in mind the burden of dental costs on certain families, which are not being covered by most health insurance companies.

Ibn Sina students, aged eight, were also educated on the importance of maintaining healthy teeth by a team of dental experts.

Oral health simple: Tips to keeping good, healthy teeth

- Brush your teeth at least twice a day - for at least five minutes - first thing in the morning and the last thing at night. Don't forget to brush the tongue. Use a tooth paste with fluoride


- Using dental floss to reach between the teeth will help reduce food particles stuck between teeth and greatly enhance the effects of your dental hygiene routine.
- Waxed or unwaxed floss is fine. Just as long as you use it every day, once a day. Approximately 90 per cent of problems arise from areas between the teeth that are difficult to reach with a toothbrush.


- A mouthwash fights bacteria and reaches places that a toothbrush cannot. Use twice a day - in the morning and last thing at night after brushing.
- Not all mouthwashes are the same. Did you know that many mouthwashes contain alcohol and not only do they sting, but they can also dry your mouth - making bad breath even worse? Choose an alcohol-free mouthwash that works without stinging or burning.
- Eat a balanced diet and limit snacks.
- Eat wisely. Avoiding sugars and starches. Minimise snacking and have a five-a-day helping of fibre-rich fruits and vegetables
-Avoid tobacco. In addition to general health risks, smokers are at risk, seven times more, of developing gum disease as compared to non-smokers.

Visit your dentist

- Pay regular visits to your dentist and ask your dentist to check your cleaning and oral hygiene technique.
- If dental problems are present they will need to be treated as cavities caused by dental caries.
- If you have missing teeth they should be replaced and malocclusion if exists and interferes with function should be treated.

Source: Dr. Ninette Banday, Head of Dental Services AHS, Restorative Dentist & Implantologist.

When was the last time you visited a dentist? Are you afraid of going to the dentist? Why?

Your comments

The dentists here are too expensive, not everyone can afford a visit regularly, many of the insurance companies don't cover dental health. Too many toothpaste brands in the market and no knowledge of which is the best one to use, some guidelines should be issued.
Posted: March 25, 2009, 08:45

Yes I am afraid to go to the dentist as the cost is not covered by the insurance.
Posted: March 25, 2009, 08:02

Here's a tip from a busy mom: Sing a lovely brushing song and brush your children's teeth for them a few times a week (this includes lazy teens as well!). This way you'll be checking on their teeth and spending quality time with them. You'll also be instilling a love for personal hygiene rather than it being a boring chore. Remember to praise the gorgeous smile thereafter.
Sumaiya Essa
Posted: March 25, 2009, 07:28

Check if your water supply is fluoridated as that greatly reduces dental caries.
Posted: March 25, 2009, 05:08