Bleeding gums causes Kenyan children to miss school

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A dental report, released early this month by the Ministry of Health found that three out of four children in Kenya suffer from gum bleeding due to poor oral hygiene practices leading to 18.9 per cent of them missing school the previous year.

It showed that despite brushing of teeth being a common practice among children, low frequency and effectiveness in brushing was to blame for the high incidence of gum bleeding cases. Symptoms of bleeding gums include; swollen and bright red gums, gums that are receding away from the teeth and bad breath.

An article published by the University of Iowa Health Care department states that bleeding gums are mainly due to inadequate plaque removal from the teeth at the gum line which usually leads gingivitis.

If the plaque is not removed through regular brushing and dental appointments, it will harden leading to increased bleeding and a more advanced form of gum and jawbone disease known as periodontitis.

Dental visits for routine checkups were found to be low at 9.9 per cent with 51.6 per cent of the respondents saying they had no specific reason for not visiting the dentist in the previous one year

Tooth brushing was regular practise but the number of times per day was low while 3.5per cent even said they had never brushed their teeth,

Use of tooth brushes was the most common way of cleaning teeth at 85.3 per cent although 20.2 per cent said they used wooden tooth picks to clean their teeth. Use of toothpaste while brushing teeth was also high at 82.7 per cent.

The health report found that the overall prevalence of gingival bleeding among children in Kenya was 75.7 per cent while the prevalence of dental caries was 23.9 per cent. The number of teeth affected ranged from 1-14 teeth, 3.4 per cent of them had teeth missing due to caries while 0.5 per cent had filled teeth. The prevalence of dental caries was higher among the 5 year olds at 46.3 per cent.

Biting of hard food such as maize was also a problem for 31 per cent of them, 27.8 per cent avoided smiling and because of their teeth.

The American Academy of Periodontology advises parents to establish good dental hygiene habits with their children from as early as 12 months by using toothpaste when brushing their teeth as a way of preventing oral diseases. They should also schedule regular dental visits, periodontal evaluations and cleanings.

Parents are also obligated to check their child’s mouth every once in a while for any signs of oral diseases.

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