Oral health improving in Malaysia

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Malaysian people now enjoy much higher standards of oral health than in previous generations, according to government health statistics.

Increased access to dental care, more affordable provision and advances in oral hygiene products have all contributed to great improvements in oral health amongst Malaysian people; however, the government recognises that more needs to be done to increase equality in dental care and help poorer people. Currently, adults who have low incomes and children from underprivileged areas are suffering from poor dental health because they cannot afford dental care and there is a shortage of affordable care in the areas they live; dentists are much more likely to head for the bright lights and high salaries associated with urban practices, rather than practice in the poorer, rural areas.

Health Minister, Datuk Seri Liow Tong Lai was speaking at the launch of Oral Health Month and said the inequality amongst classes needed to be addressed as a priority; the minister also suggested that children should be the focus of the efforts to improve dental health. Currently around a third of Malaysian children suffer from tooth decay and most don’t visit their dentist on a regular basis.

The government has been taking steps to improve access to fluoridated water across Malaysia and 75 percent of the population now benefit from fluoridated water supplies; fluoride is important because it helps to protect the enamel surfaces of the teeth. Now, the government is working to bring fluoridated water to the remaining 25 percent of the population.

Targeting children by educating them about the importance of good oral health and the dangers associated with poor dental health will help them to develop and keep good hygiene habits which will prevent gum disease and tooth decay; children can then pass on their knowledge and hygiene habits to future generations and the standards of oral health will be much higher.

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