Mandira Dootraj | Intern

Cavity, also known as tooth decay, is a major oral health issue in the country. Left unaddressed, this health and hygiene condition could develop into cancer in the long run.

According to dentists, oral cavity cancer has been the third most common cancer in the country since 2015; it is more common in men than women.

To combat the high prevalence of cavities among Bhutanese, health officials have been visiting schools and ECCD centres across the country with a programme to promote post-lunch tooth brushing habits. The programme included demonstrations with oral hygiene instructions (OHI) and screening processes.  ECCD centres are the core intervention area since the cavity is more prevalent among children.

Cavities are permanently damaged areas in the hard surface of teeth that develop into tiny openings or holes. Bacteria in mouth, frequent snacking, smoking, sipping sugary drinks, alcohol, and not cleaning teeth well, among others, are the leading causes of cavities.

Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital’s oral health specialist, Dr Gyan Prasad Bajgai, said cavity is 90 percent preventable if brushed appropriately and adequately and recommended using fluoride pastes, delicate brush and brushing the teeth with light and quick strokes.

Cavity is more prevalent among children. This is because children tend to consume more sugary foods. “If the cavity among children is controlled, the prevalence among the adults will naturally be low.”

According to health records, there are 278 oral submucous fibrosis (pre-cancerous stage) cases in the country. Thimphu has the maximum, followed by Wangdue and Samtse.