Despite the importance of proper tooth brushing in preventing oral and dental health problems, most Indonesians do not brush their teeth correctly.
“Only 2.8 percent of the population have brushed their teeth correctly, doing so at least twice a day before bedtime and after breakfast,” explained Head of Professional Marketing Personal Care at Unilever Indonesia, Ratu Mirah Afifah.
Ratu Mirah Afifah revealed this during a free dental check-up and treatment event for 750 elementary school students, children with special needs, and the general public in Yogyakarta as part of the 2023 National Dental Health Month at the UGM Faculty of Dentistry on Tuesday, September 12.
This low awareness has led to a high incidence of dental and oral problems, such as dental cavities, which affect 88 percent of the population, requiring them to have regular dental check-ups every year.
“Interestingly, 95.5 percent of Indonesians admit that they have not seen a dentist in a year,” she added.
Afifah added that the population’s sugar consumption trend is increasing yearly. It is projected that by the end of 2023, sugar consumption in the population will increase by up to 9 percent compared to 2019. This serious issue needs collective attention to promote dental health in the community.
“We cannot completely avoid sugar, but its consumption can be limited and balanced with the correct and regular tooth brushing behavior and visits to the dentist,” she explained.
Dean of the UGM Faculty of Dentistry and Chair of AFDOKGI, Professor Suryono, emphasized the importance of raising public awareness of proper tooth brushing. Brushing teeth should not be done carelessly; for example, choosing a toothbrush that fits the size of one’s mouth, brushing gently, and selecting the type of bristles that match the condition of the teeth and gums.
“If possible, choose soft bristles because hard ones can damage or erode the enamel of the teeth,” he explained.
He stressed that families should instill the behavior of cleaning teeth correctly and adequately as early as possible, starting with the habit of brushing teeth at least twice a day in children.
“The data in Indonesia shows that only 2.8 percent of the population is brushing their teeth correctly; in Yogyakarta, it has reached 6 percent of its population brushing their teeth correctly,” Professor Suryono said.
This condition, he continued, is due to the efforts made by the UGM Faculty of Dentistry, local governments, and related partners who have been actively educating the community about maintaining oral and dental health, including brushing teeth correctly.
Chair of the PB PDGI, Usman Sumantri, highlighted the community’s need to improve dental and oral health, accompanied by adequate access to dental care.
The number of dentists in Indonesia is still inadequate, with a shortage of dentists, especially specialists. Therefore, there is a need to increase the number of dental graduates and admissions to dental faculties.
“The total number of dentists in Indonesia is 43,000, including general dentists and specialists. However, the number of specialists is less than 5,000, which is still very limited, and most of them are concentrated in cities,” he explained.
Regarding high sugar consumption, Dentist Sumantri urged the public to balance it with a healthy lifestyle to maintain dental and oral health. High sugar consumption without a healthy lifestyle can contribute to an increase in the number of dental cavities by up to 31 percent.
UGM Vice Rector for Student Affairs, Community Service, and Alumni Dr. Arie Sujito stated that UGM continues encouraging its academic community and the public to adopt a healthy lifestyle.
This is realized through various programs, including community service through cooperation and collaboration among universities, the community, and partners to promote community health.
Therefore, he appreciated the activities conducted by the UGM Faculty of Dentistry and Unilever Indonesia, which facilitated free dental check-ups and treatments for the public.
Deputy Governor of the Yogyakarta Special Region, KGPAA Paku Alam X, mentioned that oral and dental diseases remain a health issue in Indonesia. Therefore, public awareness of maintaining oral and dental health needs to be raised.
“Let us together increase our spirit of concern and commitment to take concrete action to promote dental health and achieve a healthy Indonesia,” he said.
The 2023 National Dental Health Month at the UGM Faculty of Dentistry had the theme “Healthy Smile of Indonesia, Healthy Mouth and Strong Teeth.”
It was organized through a collaboration between the Indonesian Dental Association (PDGI), the Association of Indonesian Dental Faculties (AFDOKGI), the Association of Dental and Oral Hospitals of Indonesia (ARSGMPI), and Unilever Indonesia.
It featured Raisa Andriana and Hamish Daud, who are Pepsodent brand ambassadors.