Joint Press Release| 14 October 2021

The Department of Health (DOH), together with the University of the Philippines College of Public Health, Philippine Dental Association (PDA),  and Johnson & Johnson (Philippines), Inc., on October 08, 2021 conducted a lay forum on oral health “Bigyang Pansin, Importansya ng Oral Health Alamin!”

The online forum underlined the need for optimal oral health in the lives of every Filipino family, especially during these challenging times. Over 180 healthcare professionals, members of the academe, and media were in attendance — all in show of their support to make oral health a public health priority.

“Oral health touches every aspect of our lives including speech and early stages of digestion. Dental health also directly affects the immune system’s response. Early signs of medical issues are often detected in the mouth, and people who have poor oral hygiene are found to have health issues,” said Dr. Regina Berba, Hospital Infection and Control Unit head of the Philippine General Hospital.

The mouth is home to millions of bacteria. While most are harmless, bacteria in the mouth if left unchecked can multiply and lead to oral infections such as periodontitis or gum disease. Studies have found that gum disease plays a role in developing high blood pressure, heart disease, and pneumonia. It is also a condition linked to premature birth or low birth weight.

In relation to our current situation, recent data shows that there is a connection between gum disease and the severity of COVID-19. “Oral cavities are ripe for COVID-19 infection with saliva as potential route of transmission. Risk factors for severe COVID-19 such as diabetes and heart disease are also associated with poor oral hygiene,” added Dr. Berba.

Improved oral health for every Filipino

Knowing that the oral cavity is an entry point for many agents that can cause infection, oral health should not be neglected. Maintenance of good oral health is a must, and conventional mechanical methods such as tooth brushing and flossing are insufficient. Gargling daily using antiseptic mouthwashes can significantly improve oral health. Regular trips to the dentist should also be observed for early diagnosis and prevention of tooth decay, gum disease, and other dental diseases. In their early stages, these oral diseases can be reversed if not arrested with proper oral hygiene, dental treatments, and other measures.

“Oral health is an important aspect of our daily activities that we need to give importance to with or without COVID-19. What may seem as something simple like regular brushing, flossing, and gargling can make all the difference in stopping certain diseases in their tracks. That said, we will continue to collaborate closely with our partners as we create greater awareness and push for programs that would aid in improving the state of oral health in every Filipino family,” said Dr. Manuel Vallesteros, Oral Health Division Chief of the DOH and Public Health Chairman of PDA.

“We are supportive of this initiative. Improvement in oral health is a must, especially during this pandemic,”  expressed Dr. Angelo Militante, PDA President.

“We at Johnson & Johnson Philippines are always ready to provide support for advocacies that aim to institutionalize good oral care practices during this pandemic and beyond. Proper, routinary oral hygiene is critical in preventing oral diseases that can lead to more serious health concerns—and everyone should be made aware of it,” said Dr. Erwin Benedicto, Head of Medical Affairs of Johnson & Johnson’s (Philippines), Inc.