MANILA -- The Philippines has nine million denture wearers in urban areas, making it the country with the highest number of people wearing dentures in Asia, according to a study by an international pharmaceutical company.
The information was revealed in the study "Oral Care U&A: Market Understanding Study Middle East & Asia" conducted by Ipsos Marketing for GlaxoSmithKline (GSK).
Based on the study, majority of the nine million denture wearers are in the 35 to 69 year old age group. Eighty-four percent of denture wearers reside in Metro Manila, with nine percent in Cebu, and six percent in Davao.
Another study, "The Emerging Consumer Denture Journey" by Nick Newall and Rachel Kern also outlined the causes for such spike in denture wearing, among them the limited access to oral hygiene, expensive dentist fees, and lack of awareness of importance of oral hygiene and its effects to self-confidence.
The study also showed that Filipinos' oral and dental health care practices are very limited.
"The Filipinos' oral and dental health care practices are limited to very simple routines like brushing the teeth using regular toothpastes and toothbrushes. Some even use alternative household products such as salt water for cleaning the teeth," cited the study.
The study also discussed the fact that in the Philippines, dentists are rarely a source of awareness in terms of oral care. It reported that there is a forced relationship between dentists and patients who meet only during emergency cases. Some people, according to the study, even have others pull their teeth off.
However, the most damaging of these is the loss of practice of revisiting the dentist for follow-ups.
"We must create value for our teeth regardless of financial difficulties. In terms of dental relationships, people neglect returning to their dentists for maintenance purposes, doing so only when the damage has been too great to bear," said Dr. Danny Magtanong of the Philippine Prosthodontic Society (PPS).
Magtanong, who specializes in reconstructive dentistry and is an associate professor in prosthodontics at the UP College of Dentistry, also explained that Filipinos have become apathetic toward their teeth.
"Not only is the "bahala na" attitude of Filipinos alarming, but also the lack of value for teeth. For example, people in the past would have attitudes like "okay lang 'yan, masisira din naman ngipin mo," these attitudes have evolved to be damaging towards the total dental health of the individual. So now, many become more and more subject to dental problems not only because of this attitude, but also largely due to Filipinos' inadequacy to acquire proper dental health implements. What Filipinos largely know of is only to brush their teeth; on some occasions, gargle with salt if financial circumstances are not favorable."
PPS, in coordination with GSK, has been undertaking an education and information campaign both in urban and rural areas to promote dental health and proper denture care.