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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Donated dental chairs bite into cavity crisis

Donated dental chairs bite into cavity crisis

The average five-year-old has more than eight decayed teeth and 99 percent of children get no dental care

ROTARY Club members from Taiwan have brought to Cambodia a container load of donated dental care equipment, including eight highly specialised dental chairs fully rigged with compressors and generators so poor people around Cambodia can have access to modern dental care.

A ceremony took place last week the Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone where the container was unloaded and sorted including a dental X-ray machine, together with lots of clothing and groceries for needy children and orphans.

Dr Callum Durward, dean of the dentistry faculty at International University and executive director of an NGO called One-2-One, said Cambodian children had some of the worst teeth in the world.

“The average five-year-old has more than eight decayed teeth and 99 percent of children get no dental care,” Durward said.

“Studies show that children with bad teeth have lower weight and growth because they avoid chewing,” Durward said.

“The problem of rampant decay in children can’t be solved with treatment,” Durward said. “The right approach is prevention – like tooth-brushing programmes in schools.”

The Colgate and Pepsodent toothpaste companies had been supporting the efforts and fluoride treatments could quickly arrest tooth decay, Durward said.

Average teenagers in Phnom Penh had six decayed teeth, he said.

The event also marked the start of National Oral Health Month as ordained by the Cambodian Ministry of Health’s Dental Council.

A driving force behind the effort is Dr William Choi of Taipei, who has been supported by the Chinese Christian Medical Mission from Taiwan and the Chinese Christian Dental Services, also from Taiwan.

The complicated dental chairs, called “operatories”, along with donations of food and clothing and other items to orphans through various NGOs, were hosted and assisted by the Rotary Club of Phnom Penh. 

On hand for last Monday’s ceremony were club president Eric Mousset and member Lity Yap who represented the Special Economic Zone, along with Reverend Lun-Hsien Tung of Taiwan, Excellency Professor Sabo Ojano of the International University of Cambodia, Pastor Sinai Phouek and Pastor Nonoy Maglacion.

“We hope we can help local people on their oral health problems,” said Dr Chui.

The dental chairs that run on compressed air are now being placed in locations around Cambodia with the assistance of a volunteer technician from Taiwan who gets them up and running.

Dr Annie Chen-Green, a volunteer from One-2-One, came from Christchurch in New Zealand to support the activities.

Herself a medical doctor, she works closely with Dr Durward to promote the health of children and orphans.  She is actively involved in moving the equipment around Cambodia.

During the ceremony there was a distinct Christian flavour, with speeches from clergymen and songs about love and kindness from the orphan groups.

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