By Louise Jobe
Oral Health Gambia Foundation in collaboration with Lamin Health Center (NGO) has provided free toothbrushes and toothpaste to students of Babylon Lower Basic School and some adults at Lamin village in the Kombo North District of the West Coast Region.
The aforesaid foundation which was established in the US in December 2020, focuses chiefly on the promotion of oral health in the Gambia.
Mustapha Conteh, co-founder of the foundation, said it was the first time for them to visit Lamin Health Centre to provide dental hygiene services to Gambians.
“We have seen 32 children and 13 adults in a period of 5 working days. Every single patient that me and my team have seen, had more than two cavities. The number of cavities is a simple and basic measure of knowing the oral health status of a community. The children were taught the proper way to brush and flush their teeth including the frequency of brushing,” he said.
Conteh said the foundation will continue to support children in maintaining a healthy mouth; adding that prior to the arrival of the team from the US, he has been in communication with the Director of Lamin Health Centre, Anna De Koning, to ensure that her facility is ready for them to use.
“The dental clinic at the Health Centre is a standard one and has the necessary materials and equipment to provide basic hygiene service to patients,” he said.
The foundation wants to give periodic treatment to people living with diabetes and hypertension, and provided intra and extra-oral assessment of patients, most of whom were educated on the importance of a healthy mouth and how this is connected to the health system.
“The majority of patients seen at Lamin Health Centre have suspected cases of periodontitis for now. If X-rays were taken, it would have given them a definitive and comprehensive diagnosis of their conditions. The community was aware of our presence at the health centre,” Conteh said.
Dentist Conteh explained that the mouth is the gateway to the body and keeping it clean and fresh, should be everyone’s priority. He said the foundation wants to treat periodontitis and educate people about the connection between oral and systemic health.
According to him, they saw more children than adults, adding that good oral health behaviour should start from childhood and retain for life as one ages. The dentist also added that this is going to be an annual event, and the foundation is expecting a bigger group of volunteers in December 2022.
“We are also planning to open a fully equipped dental clinic in the coming years, to cater for the growing number of people wanting to take care of their teeth. We also want to introduce digital x-rays in the near future, because without clear and diagnosable pictures, it is going to be hard to spot dental decay early and treat them as quickly as possible,” he said.
He urged Government to take ownership of dental health promotion in the Gambia by establishing a department of dentistry at the Ministry of Health.
“Gum disease is a global issue including dental cavities. The goal is preventive care which should start as early as possible,” he said.
Lamin Sanyang, a student and native of Lamin village who spoke on behalf of the community, applauded the free dental care services offered by the Oral Health Gambia Foundation. Sanyang said many of them have never visited a dentist to get dental care, and on behalf of the beneficiaries, thanked Oral Health Gambia Foundation and their donor partners for providing them with free dental care services and support.
Omar Kujabi and Louis Gomez both thanked Mustapha Conteh and team for their support.