On World Oral Health Day, Smile Train, the world’s largest cleft organisation, has urged the families and children affected by clefts to seek oral health treatment at their nearest partner hospital.
Cleft is a common birth difference that can cause difficulties in breathing, eating and speaking. Children with clefts are also more likely to have missing or mispositioned teeth and, without proper care, they may experience tooth decay and cavities, leading to pain and the loss of teeth at an early age. This can severely impair their ability to chew, speak and even sleep, resulting in a significant impact on their health and quality of life.
Smile Train’s vice-president and regional director for Africa, Mrs. Nkeiruka Obi emphasised the importance of timely oral healthcare for cleft patients.
The organisation provides free, holistic, and comprehensive cleft care, including oral health and orthodontics. Obi urged more cleft patients to visit their nearest partner hospital for oral health care, as timely treatment can decrease the development of oral diseases and improve their quality of life in the long run. She also highlighted that good oral health is essential for eating, breathing, and speaking, and it contributes to overall health, well-being and confidence.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), oral diseases affect 50 per cent of the world’s population, with 3 out of every 4 affected people living in low- and middle-income countries.
Smile Train continues to build capacity for orthodontic professionals and enhance access to quality treatment as close to the patient as possible. The organisation has active cleft care programs in 42 African countries, with over 245 partners and 255 partner hospitals across the continent.
Obi emphasised the vital role that oral health professionals, cleft care team members, cleft community members, families, and patients themselves play in preventing oral health diseases in the cleft community.
Smile Train aims to provide quality cleft care to enable patients to be proud of their mouth and uplift their mental and emotional health, allowing them to thrive.