Dental Health Week was held this week under the theme, “Belize, Big Up Your Smile, It Reflects Your Style.” Activities were held countrywide to emphasize the importance of dental health, including free teeth cleaning for teachers.
On Friday in Belize City, the community were invited to a Dental Health Fair featuring participation from the Dental Health Department, and other organizations who have an interest in maintaining healthy teeth, and there was even a special appearance from Belize’s own Tooth Fairy.
But, some Belizeans still carry a childhood fear of unendurable pain at the end of a tooth drill, which prevents them from seeing the dentist regularly.
Senior Dental Surgeon, Dr. Rafael Samos, tells us just how many times you need to come in, and what you can do to brighten your smile.
“Overall the population has had a bad image of the dentist. In the past it used to be like, ‘Oh, I’m going to dentist to get pain!’ But it has to change around. Now, if you have pain, they usually come to the dentist and this is where we come in and bring back your smile.
It doesn’t have to be painful, and there are several alternatives before you even reach to that pain stage.
We encourage each person to visit the dentist at least twice a month. So, let’s do the maths. If your age is twenty, you’re supposed to multiply that by two, and that’s the amount of visits you owe me for this year.”
According to the Ministry of Health, the Dental Department also participated earlier this year in a survey along with the Public Health Inspectorate and the Water Quality Laboratory of Central Health Region, to determine the fluoride content of drinking water. The last fluoride survey in drinking water was done in 1999 and since then there have been changes in drinking water sources countrywide, with more than half of Belizeans now using purified water as opposed to BWS standard or even rain water or underground wells.
But there’s really no difference, as explained by Water Analyst for the Ministry of Health, Anthony Flowers.
“The results of the survey show that generally in Belize ou4r drinking water supply systems do not contain a very high concentration of Fluoride. The United States Center For Disease Control has established an optimum concentration of Fluoride in drinking water, meaning that if the drinking water contains this optimum amount of Fluoride, them there is no need for the country or the water system to add any Fluoride to that system, or for you to get your Fluoride from any other source.
In Belize we only we only found optimum concentrations of Fluoride in some private wells in the Northern Districts, primarily Orange Walk. Generally we found low levels. So that means that in Belize we will have to get our Fluoride from other sources, for example toothpaste.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a limit of 0.7 milligrams/liter of fluoride, with a maximum limit of 1.5 milligrams. More than four in every five water sample tested for less than the WHO limit at 0.009 milligrams/liter. The highest concentration was found in two wells in the San Jose/San Pablo area of Orange Walk, occurring naturally.
Fluoride strengthens tooth enamel to prevent cavities from forming and some countries actually introduce it to their water supplies.
Belize has no plans, according to Anthony Flowers, to move in that direction yet.
Participating private companies at the fair included Santiago Castillo Limited, Grace Kennedy (Belize) Limited, and James Brodie and Company Limited.