GHANA – The Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) has said it will commence regulation of toothbrush as a medical device as from September.

The authority has said already laid out standards for manual and powered toothbrushes will be used as references.

Information released by Uniliver during world oral health day disclosed that at least 96% of adults in Ghana within ages 35-44 years are affected by gum diseases, while another 40% of 12-year-olds suffer from decayed, missing teeth, stained teeth and bad breath.

The situation is even worse in Africa as a whole. According to the Unilever MD, the continent is experiencing an oral crisis owing to the lack of fluoride in most toothpaste formulations and a serious absence of dental care and education amongst many Africans.

It is estimated that oral diseases affect 3.5 billion people worldwide, and untreated dental caries/tooth decay of permanent teeth was one of the most prevalent diseases globally in 2017.

Poor oral health causes severe pain, discomfort, and can lead to disfigurement, social isolation, and even death.

In Africa, oral diseases are increasingly being recognized as a major public health problem in light of the rising NCD burden as well as its common modifiable risk factors. It is reported that approximately 400 million people suffered from some form of oral disease in the WHO African Region in 2017.

Due to a lack /unequal distribution of oral health professionals, a lack of appropriate facilities, and – in many countries in Africa – no dedicated oral health budget, people incur significant out-of-pocket expenses to access oral health services, while most oral diseases in the African Region remain untreated.

Covid-19 impact on dental health

As with most specialist care and clinics, there seems to have been a phase of uncertainty, while further understanding of the virus is being sought.

As a result of fear of contracting the virus, or as a moral duty to prevent spreading COVID-19 among their patients, dental professionals have limited their services.

In China, while patient attendance significantly reduced, there was an interesting change in the pattern of dental problems.

The number of dental and oral infections increased from 51% of pre-COVID-19 to 71.9% during COVID-19, and dental trauma decreased from 14.2% to 10.5%.

Anecdotal evidence from the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, Ghana, revealed a similar observation with an upsurge in severe dental-related admissions during this period, and a record of associated mortalities.

This could have been due to reduced routine utilization of oral healthcare services during the pandemic.