Thu, Apr 19, 2007 - Page 2 News List

City official aches over cavity survey

By Mo Yan-chih  /  STAFF REPORTER

Children in Taipei smile yesterday while holding up a sign instructing kids to brush their teeth correctly.

PHOTO: WANG MIN-WEI, TAIPEI TIMES

More than 60 percent of elementary school students in Taiwan have cavities, a percentage that puts the nation second highest among Asian countries after the Philippines, a Taipei City councilor said yesterday.

According to a survey conducted by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Taipei City Councilor Lee Yen-hsiu (李彥秀) of 300 students in Taipei municipal elementary schools from April 10 to Tuesday, 61 percent of students have cavities, with nearly 30 percent of these students having at least three cavities and 12 percent having at least five cavities.

More than 40 percent of parents failed to arrange regular dental check ups for their kids, the survey said.

In addition to berating parents, Lee also blamed what she described as poor dental care education on schools and the Taipei City Department of Education, urging them to provide better dental care at schools.

"The department should add more funding for dental care, and promote dental care at schools," Lee told a press conference at the Taipei City Council yesterday.

Parents and schools do not place enough importance on children's dental health, Lee said, and as a result the cavity rate among children in Taiwan is three times that of Hong Kong or Singapore.

According to the department's statistics, more than 58 percent of first graders in Taipei had tooth decay in 2005, lower than the 64 percent reported in 2004.

The department said it had a dental care budget of NT$1.39 million (US$40,000) for elementary school students, and invited dentists to perform dental checkups on students at school each semester, but acknowledged that it needed to continue educating students about brushing their teeth after meals.

Chen Shih-yue (陳世岳), director of the Taipei City Dentists' Association, suggested that in addition to providing free fluoride treatment for children under five years of age, the Ministry of Education should promote dental-care education and provide greater access to free dental treatment.

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