Oral health is defined by WHO as “the state of being free from chronic mouth and facial pain, oral and throat cancer, oral sores, birth defects such as cleft lip and palate, periodontal (gum) disease, tooth decay and tooth loss, and other diseases and disorders that affect the oral cavity”.
Rates of cavities are high in Qatari children. The MOPH’s 2011 National Oral Health Survey identified that 88% of Qatari and 61% of non-Qatari six year olds had dental cavities (Figure 13). In comparison, a sample of 5 year old French children identified that only 30% had cavities. Qatari children have an average of 4.45 decayed primary teeth while non-Qatari children have an average of 2.46 decayed primary teeth.
There is a low rate of dental fluorosis, and the National Oral Health Survey recommended mapping fluoride content in Qatar’s drinking water as a basis of making further recommendations regarding either water fluoridation or oral supplementation.
The oral health survey was not able to assess home hygiene practices or home intake of sweets and sugary beverages or of bottle-propping at bed time; all of these behaviors have been associated with dental cavities.
Poor oral health can lead to a number of complications including cavities, tooth loss, gum disease and oral cancer. The consequences of these complications range from difficulty eating due to tooth decay and loss, to the life-threatening effects of cancer.
Oral Health Objectives
Qatar’s healthcare authorities have already identified oral health as a pressing concern and begun implementing programs to address the issue. One such initiative is the ‘Beautiful Smiles Oral Health Program’ – a PHCC initiative that provides basic dental care and oral health promotion to children aged 0-5 years old and to pregnant women. This service focuses on a networked clinic approach to improve access for high risk populations. The strategy’s Oral Health Objectives seek to continue and expand on oral health promotion and prevention initiatives while also increasing oral and dental check-ups for adults that identify oral health problems early and enable treatment to be provided.