Fri | May 24, 2019

Children need dental care

Published:Tuesday | March 19, 2019 | 12:13 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

As a retired dental nurse, I am very concerned about the oral health of this nation and, specifically, the 0-18 population. The dental nurse was specifically trained to offer oral care to this group. Since the inception of the dental nursing programme in Jamaica, the awareness and benefits of good oral health among the child population have been heightened. It has also helped to lower the incidence of dental caries, thereby improving the quality of life for our children.

The training of dental nurses has stopped for quite some time and Jamaica needs an explanation. The University of Technology Jamaica, College of Oral Health Sciences, should be offering a Bachelor of Science in Dental Nursing/Therapy. The cadre of dental nurses islandwide is declining due mainly to retirement, and there is no replacement.

I, therefore, call upon the Ministry of Health, the regional health authorities, and the University of Technology, Jamaica to provide answers and an update on the current situation as it relates to the training and subsequent employment of dental nurses.

The contribution of dental nurses over the years cannot be ignored. It must be highlighted and provisions made for continuity.

As a country, we owe it to our children to provide the best possible healthcare, oral/dental care no less. The incidence of early childhood caries is a public-health problem worldwide (CDC Trends in Oral Health Status, 2007). Early childhood caries is the most common infectious childhood disease, American Association of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), 2016. It is five times more common in children than asthma, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The dental nurse plays an integral role in offering care to this vulnerable age group. We must advocate for the training to continue.

I am also using this opportunity to urge young Jamaicans as they consider career choices to take a closer look at dental nursing as an option. Do the research, inform yourselves about the history and the contribution of dental nurses to oral/general health.

ORAL HEALTH ADVOCATE