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Common Oral Health Problems In The Philippines

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Common injuries to the mouth include tooth fractures, tooth dislocations, soft tissue cutes, including mandible fracture; bruising and lacerations to the lips, frenulum, gums and tongue, and broken or missing teeth. The throat can be injured by any crushing blow; common causes include hanging (accidental or intentional), impact with a steering wheel, or running or riding into a stretched wire or clothesline. If the throat is cut, bleeding from a major artery or vein can occur, and air bubbles may enter the blood vessels.

The two most common oral health problems in the Philippines are dental caries tooth decay/cavity) and periodontal diseases (e.g., swelling and infection of gums). Data shows that 87.4%, or 9 out of 10 Filipinos, have dental caries, while 48.3% have periodontal disease, as based on the 2011 National Monitoring and Evaluation Dental Survey (NMEDS), which presented a dramatic rise in 2018. The Filipino Times (2018) reported that based on the data of the Philippine Department of Health (DOH), about 78% of Filipinos are now suffering from gingivitis or swelling of the gums. Data presented is also problematic as it showed that 77%, or more than 7 out of 10 Filipinos have never even been to a dentist. Another concern was that dental caries was high in the younger generation (98%), and toothache is a common ailment among schoolchildren, and is the primary cause of absenteeism from school.

Cancer ranks third among the leading causes of mortality and morbidity in the Philippines. Laudico et al., (2015) indicated that oral cancer was among the top 10 cancer sites in Filipino men and women. Although current data shows a decline in rate, it is still the number 11 cause of deaths (2%) in the Philippines. Specifically, oral cancer (lips, pharynx, tongue, soft palate, and uvula); including esophageal cancer, have been identified and attributed to tobacco, buyo and betel but chewing and inverted tobacco or cigarette smoking, alcohol use, and a diet lacking in fruits and vegetables, as supported by the studies of Davis (1915), Guazon (1925), Pantangco and Casals (1957), Tolentino et al., (1963), Ngelangel and Wang (2002), and Laudico et al., (2015). Avoidance and/or cessation of these unhealthy habits, and maintaining a healthy diet, could prevent oral cancer.The human papilloma virus (HPV) can also cause oral cancer. A study found that people who have had more than five oral-sex partners in their lifetime are 250% more likely to develop throat cancer than those who do not have oral sex. According to Nordqvist (2018), oral sex (fellatio and cunnilingus) can spreads the HPV which can cause pre-cancerous changes in cells that may lead to throat cancer. An estimated 35% of cancers are infected with HPV. Men who have performed oral sex on five or more women are at greater risk of developing head and neck cancer, especially if they smoke.

In an early study by Carlos-Raboca et al., (2012), there is a low prevalence thyroid function abnormalities in the Philippines (8.53%). There is also a low prevalence of true or overt hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism, and any occurrence of goiter required further investigation. Currently, goiter, mostly related to iodine deficiency, is now prevalent in the Philippines, affecting mostly women (e.g., pregnant) and school age children.

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