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Improving our children’s oral health – treatment and prevention are both key

Sothy,* 10 years old, lives with her parents and two siblings in the Svay Leu district, 50km from Siem Reap. Sothy’s father is a teacher, while her mother looks after their home. Recently Sothy had been suffering from severe tooth ache which had been starting to affect her studies. Finally, the pain had become so bad that her teachers gave her permission to take time off school and visit AHC for a check-up.

Sothy travelled to AHC on the back of her mother’s motorbike in late December. She was directed to the Outpatient department for registration and then directed onward to the dental clinic for Sothy’s check-up. As they sat in the waiting area outside the dental office, Sothy and her mother participated in one of AHC’s daily education sessions on oral health. It provided Sothy’s mother with a lot of important information that she was not previously aware of – such as the importance of regular tooth brushing, and the dangers of surgery foods.

When it was Sothy’s turn to visit the dentist she was accompanied by her mother to the consultation chair – this was her first ever visit to a dentist. Here our dentist assessed her teeth and found that most of her teeth were badly decayed. The damage was such that she was at risk of infection in her teeth and gums; she was obviously already in considerable pain.

To address her problems the AHC dentist decided that she required extraction of two of the severely damaged milk teeth and fillings in four of her adult teeth. Sothy stayed in Siem Reap overnight so the procedures could be performed over the following two days. Our dental nurses also sat down with Sothy’s mother to review the oral health education session and answer any questions she may have. She is now aware of the importance of proper hygiene practices and understands that Sothy must take better care of her remaining teeth in order to stay healthy. They will return to AHC in six months for another check-up where dentists can make sure she has no further problems and that AHC’s training has been effective.

Knowledge and application of good oral hygiene practices in Cambodia is still poor. Dentists at AHC often find that by the time they meet their patients, they are already suffering significant tooth decay and are at risk of associated infections.

While the dental education sessions at the hospital are effective, an even more broad-ranging initiative is AHC’s school outreach programme, where AHC staff conduct dental and eye care services, and health education in local schools. This vital service ensures children receive fundamental information and services needed to remain healthy and that they are able to survive and thrive. In 2017, these activities will form part of the clinical services of the AHC Village Outreach Bus and School Dental Bus – which will help us ensure that our services are available to reach even greater community beneficiaries.

Click here to donate to our Village Outreach Bus initiative or email us on development@angkorhospital.org to find out more information.

*Patient name changed for confidentiality

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