Healthy teeth, healthy smile

IT WAS an unusually festive morning yesterday at the Oton Central School in Oton, Iloilo when a thousand children and adults gathered together to receive free toothbrush and toothpaste, and to hear dentists lecture them on the proper way to brush their teeth.

The Oton affair, conducted by the Philippine Dental Association (PDA) Iloilo chapter, was just one of the many “first salvos” nationwide of the first “National Toothbrushing Day”. Every first Monday of February would henceforth be known as “National Toothbrushing Day” to kick off the annual celebration of the Philippine Dental Health Month.

Pursuant to Presidential Proclamation No. 559 signed by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in February 2004, the PDA-led observance aims to strengthen public awareness on the importance of good oral health and to promote the importance of maintaining good oral health for people of all ages.

The PDA-Iloilo president, Dr. Mine Quilino, was among the dentists who lectured yesterday’s parents and children on good tooth brushing habits, proper technique and the need to brush for two minutes twice a day.

“A complete set of teeth,” she told me yesterday, “builds self-confidence. Nobody wants to smile with a missing front tooth.”

A dentistry graduate of Centro Escolar University (1996), Quilino has blazed 20 years of experience, six of which were spent in far-flung barangays under the Department of Health’s “Dentist to the Barrio” program. There she discovered adults who had to be taught to teach proper tooth brushing to their children.

“Parental supervision is necessary,” Dr. Quilino told her audience, “Correct tooth brushing could help the children grow up with healthy teeth.

“Having clean teeth all the time will prevent the onset of tooth cavities and plaque. As even non-dentists know, eating sweets and sugary foods could cause tooth decay and agonizing toothache.”

Dental cavity is the breakdown of teeth due to acids made by bacteria, which dissolve the hard tissues of the teeth. Bacteria present in inflamed gum may trigger blood clots which could contribute to a heart attack or stroke.

According to Dr. Asuncion Lauresta Faro, PDA-Iloilo began in the year 1927 as Iloilo Dental Society – 93 years ago – with Dr. Domingo Mabunay Sr. as president. Also among its past presidents were the late Iloilo City councilor Dr. Sergio Gonzalez (1960-61), Dr. Asuncion Faro (2002-03) and Dr. Reynaldo “Bong” Gustilo (1979-81).

The immediate past president is Dr. Angelina Cordero.

Under Dr. Mine Quilino as the present and 46th president, PDA has a roster of 500-plus members who pay an annual membership fee of P1,000 plus whatever contributions for conventions, lectures and dental missions . Not all of them regularly attend the association’s activities, however, because of hectic working schedule.   

An in-demand dentist like Dr. Albert Chester Valencia Grijalvo, for instance, receives as many as 40 patients a day in his clinic at Lapuz, Iloilo City.

He excels in direct adhesive composite restoration, a technique to restore tooth defects by bonding composite resin materials, relying on bonding strength between the materials and dental tissue.

Dr. Grijalvo, incidentally, is one dentist who does not need a fellow dentist. He still has a complete set of true teeth.

“Given the proper care, our teeth are meant to last a lifetime,” he said.

Dr. Quilino is not as time-pressured. She shares the Healthy Smiles dental clinic at SM City-Iloilo with four other private practitioners.

PDA-Iloilo holds office in a 500-square-meter building in Molo, which was donated by the Iloilo City government in 2006 under the leadership of Mayor Jerry Treñas. ([email protected]/PN)

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