Dentists from California, in the USA, have observed that lack of dental education is the leading cause of tooth decay in Uganda.
The observation was made by Dr Richard Schmother, who led a team of dental surgeons on a philanthropic expedition that took them to Lyantonde among other places in Africa.
Dr. Schmother was accompanied by his son Dr Alex Schmother, and dental hygienist, Patti Rae, during a four-day dental camp they staged at Salaama Shield Community Development Center in Lyantonde Town recently (September 25-29 2017).
They were part of a volunteer team of seven dental experts who travelled from the USA to offer free dental services to the people of Lyantonde town and the neighbouring communities.
One hundred and ten people benefited from the services. Twenty more people had their teeth examined but they did not need any treatment as their teeth were found to be in good condition.
One case was referred to Mulago, Kampala because it required complicated surgery which could not be handled at the camp.
Dr Richard Schmother, 72, told The Sunrise that: “Most of the dental problems we have found indicate that a large number of people around here don’t know what is bad for teeth. They have been eating a lot of sweet things and starchy food without prompt and sufficient cleaning
of their teeth.
He added: “The best practice would be to eat natural food and to clean the teeth almost immediately after consuming processed and sugary food items. White sugar, white bread, and nearly all processed food and drinks should be consumed with caution. Starch, inside the mouth, turns into sugar within about three minutes which causes cavities in the teeth.”
Ms. Patti Rae who has been a dental hygienist for over thirty years, revealed that there is need to train people to keep their teeth by regularly cleaning them, seeking dental check-ups, and avoiding gum disease.
Ms. Rae said: “In my country, there is a trained and licensed dental hygienist attached to every dentist, and their job is to help people avoid gum disease and tooth decay. Normally everybody sees a dental hygienist at least three times every year. Dental education and hygiene ought to be
inculcated and emphasized in Uganda’s school education system.”
During the four days of the camp, the team carried out dental education to members of the local community in Lyantonde Town.
Rae disclosed that the team had made twenty free service dental camps in different parts of the world, including in Mexico, Burma, Cambodia, Peru, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.
The dentists, who said they have no religious affiliation, always take the service in the rural communities, pay for their own transport to the host country, their equipment, and their hotel accommodation.
Ms. Pros Ngabire of Lyantonde Town whose fractured tooth was repaired at the camp praised the team for their kindness and friendliness.
And Sharon Kyalimpa and Fiona Nyintezimana, two student nurses of Lyantonde School of Nursing and Midwifery who volunteered to work with the American team said the camp was an opportunity for them to see and to learn how to use modern sterilization equipment.
Ms Lisa Larman of Salama Shield Foundation (SSF), an AIDS Research Project based in Lyantonde, solicited the team’s visit.