GUAGUA -- In a bid to raise awareness on the importance of oral hygiene and develop healthy habits among children, the Diosdado P. Macapagal Memorial Hospital (DPMMH) is offering free dental healthcare to preschool children of this town.
According to Dr. Joseline Ponio, Dentist III of DPMMH, oral health is not a priority among Kapampangan families especially those who belong to low income families.
Ponio said the younger ones are the most affected when it comes to oral caries or tooth decay.
The dentist pointed out that caries may cause trouble in concentrating, difficulty in learning and absences in school among children. It can also cause poor eating habits, speech and socialization problems and low self-esteem.
Thus, the DPMMH created a dental immunization program that will benefit the students of the 36 daycare centers of this town.
The oral immunization program of the provincial hospital started in 2011 where daycare children receive two doses of free fluoride for the full protection of their teeth.
“We do the fluoride application for day care children every year. We do it during the National Children’s Month in November and Oral Health Month in February,” Ponio said.
The dentist said the program is not only about teeth protection but also educating the parents and their children about the importance of oral health care.
“Children should be aware about the existence of dentists. We also have to elevate the dental IQ (intelligence quotient) of parents. Oral health does not start and end in tooth extraction. Tooth extraction is not the only solution to the oral problems of a person,” the dentist added.
Ponio and other dentists from DPMMH are also bent on giving the children good experience on their first encounter with the dentist.
“It should be instilled in the minds of the children that seeing and going to the dentist is not a frightening thing. We will never do tooth extraction during our first meeting with the children because they will remember it as a traumatic experience until they are old. Children should be encouraged to go to the dentist,” Ponio said.
Aside from fluoride application, dentists from DPMMH also conduct lectures for parents, oral check-up and preventive services and distributes hygiene kits to the day care children.
Dr. Ponio also encourages the parents together with their children to visit DPMMH after their oral check-up to avail of free dental health services in the provincial hospital.
“After the oral check-up, we now have a record of the children with dental caries. If the patient needs oral prophylaxis or cleaning or pasta, we encourage the parents to go to DPMMH especially if they are Philhealth (Philippine Health Insurance Corporation) members because they can avail of the free services of our hospital,” Ponio said.
Based on the records of the DPMMH, in 2011 some 98 percent of the day care children beneficiaries have dental caries. The percentage dropped to 83 percent this year.
According to Ponio, the beneficiaries of the oral immunization program of DPMMH are the day care children of this town. The dentist hopes that the program will be extended in the second district of the province where it will also be beneficial to other children.
“Initially, our target is Guagua day care children because DPMMH is in Guagua and Guagua is the catchment area of the provincial hospital,” the dentist said. (Liezel Cayanan/Pampanga PIO)