Oral cancer snuffs out three to four Sri Lankans a day

By Don Asoka Wijewardena

Director General Health Services Dr. Palitha Maheepala yesterday said that around 90 per cent of Sri Lankans were suffering from dental caries and another 90 per cent of people were also suffering from gum diseases like gingivitis.

 A considerable number of Lankans were dying of oral cancer at the rate of three to four a day, he said at a media conference held at the Health Education Bureau yesterday (14) in view of the World Oral Health Day, which falls on March 20.

 Dr. Maheepala pointed out that in fairly recent times oral diseases, especially various forms of oral cancer had been detected among people addicted to betel chewing, smoking and alcohol. They never sought treatment for various oral diseases until it was too late.

 Dental Health Specialist Dr. Udaya Usgodaarchchi said that it was extremely important to brush teeth after a child got milk tooth. A clean piece of cloth could be used for that purpose. When the child became 10 or 12 months old, four to six teeth could be seen. It was better to brush the teeth at that age with a clean brush so that the child would adopt the habit of brushing teeth. Children who neglected to do so would be liable to many forms of oral diseases later in life, he cautioned.

 He added that various oral diseases in Sri Lanka had affected around 90 per cent of the population including school children. Improper brushing, chewing betel, smoking and consumption of alcohol could be attributed to the dramatic increase of oral diseases in Sri Lanka, he added.

 Consultant Dentist Dr. Mrs. Ehani Fernando said that it was important to have healthy food habits from childhood. By reducing sweets and sugar based food items oral complications could be prevented to a great extent. Brushing teeth in the morning and before sleep which could prevent many oral complications. The teeth, gum and the oral mucus membrane should be protected at all times if trouble was to be avoided, she said.

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