The Malaysian Dental Association (MDA), Colgate-Palmolive Malaysia and the Health Ministry’s Oral Healthcare Division recently launched Oral Health Month 2017.

Now in its 14th consecutive year, the theme for this year’s Oral Health Month is “Live Fearlessly” in an effort to encourage Malaysians to make regular dental visits a part of their oral and general wellbeing.

The campaign theme stems from the fact that many Malaysians take visiting dentists too lightly.

According to the National Oral Health Survey in 2010, only 27.4% of adults had a dental visit in the last one year.

The most common reasons for not seeking care were cited as “no problem” (67.7%) and “too busy” (9.3%), while 32.9% of adults perceived a dental visit as a “fearful experience”.

During the launch of Oral Health Month 2017, Colgate-Palmolive (Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Brunei) marketing director Adam Pineda said, “Dental anxiety is an influencing factor in regular dental visit behaviour and we hope that with Oral Health Month, we would be able to educate and encourage more Malaysians to stop negating dental visits as part of their oral health care habits.

“It is important that dental health awareness includes visiting the dentist regularly.”

On top of aiming to normalise dental visits, the “Live Fearlessly” campaign will also discuss preventive measures for some of the common oral health problems Malaysians endure.

This includes dental cavities, periodontal diseases and tooth sensitivity, as well as ways to achieve fresh breath and bright smiles.

Pineda, Dr Chow and Dr Noor Aliyah at the launch of Oral Health Month 2017 themed ‘Live Fearlessly’.

Pineda, Dr Chow and Dr Noor Aliyah at the launch of Oral Health Month 2017 themed ‘Live Fearlessly’.

“Attaining and maintaining oral and overall health require a commitment to self-care and professional care, and these responsibilities belong to both the individual and healthcare providers.

“With that, it is crucial that Malaysians not take dental care too lightly and only think of the dentist when pain becomes unbearable.

“We need to change our mindsets and believe that prevention is better than cure, and that frequent dental visits is key to achieving a healthier lifestyle,” said the ministry’s Oral Health principal director Datuk Dr Noor Aliyah Binti Ismail, who officiated the launch.

Oral Health Month 2017

Celebrated throughout March, the Oral Health Month 2017 campaign intensifies efforts to educate Malaysians of all ages on the need to visit the dentist regularly, as well as the importance of overall oral health regimen for the benefit of general wellbeing.

In hopes of improving the overall health status and quality of life for Malaysians, the campaign aims to increase accessibility to dental services, which includes free dental check-ups at 894 private participating dental clinics nationwide.

This will be supported by Oral Health Month 2017 road shows in 11 shopping mall locations all over the country.

The campaign will emphasise on preventive care through self-care and continuation of regulsr dental visits.

Visiting the dentist regularly for an oral check will help teeth stay cleaner, last longer, and can prevent dental problems from developing.

Meanwhile, daily care, which includes proper brushing thoroughly twice a day and flossing daily, could greatly decrease the risk of tooth decay, gum disease and other dental problems.

“Complete care includes visiting a dentist for regular check-ups and professional cleaning, as well as maintaining good home care routine.

“These are oral care habits that should be groomed from a young age and we hope that Malaysians would be able to conquer their dental anxiety,” said Pineda.

Dentist visit: What to expect

Those suffering from anxiety of dental visits will have a sense of uneasiness when it is time for a dental visit.

People develop anxieties often due to the fear of pain, feelings of helplessness or loss of control, embarrassment, or even negative past experiences.

However, this uneasiness can be easily combatted by firstly finding a dentist with whom you feel comfortable.

Typically, dental check-ups would include a thorough cleaning, where built-up plaque and tartar, which can cause gum disease, cavities, bad breath and other problems, are removed.

A full examination of your teeth, gums and mouth is also performed to ensure there are no signs of disease or other problems.

At this point, any identified problems can be treated from becoming serious.

MDA president Dr Chow Kai Foo noted at the launch: “We should all remember that to maintain a healthy mouth, brushing and flossing aren’t always enough.

“You also need to see a dentist for preventive check-ups.

“Regular dental visits can help preserve your teeth and smile for a lifetime.”