The high cost of dental care in Jamaica means hundreds and thousands have to go without basic dental care, according to area dentists. Dr. Irving McKenzie, director of dentistry in the Ministry of Health says that the expensive composites and materials dentists use contribute to the high costs. In addition to these materials, Dr. McKenzie mentioned the dental chair as a contributing factor to escalated costs, calling it one of the “most costly” items in the dentists’ repertoire.
Jamaica’s escalated dental costs mean that an increasing number of residents have poor dental hygiene and poor overall health. Since, Dr. McKenzie said, a large amount of research suggests that there is a direct link between a person’s oral health and their overall health.
So, Dr. McKenzie is working with local newspapers to educate the people of Jamaica on dental issues that they may not be aware of including those effecting healthy pregnancies and HIV/AIDS. In one such interview, Dr. McKenzie cautioned expectant mothers that gum disease can lead to preterm, low birth-weight babies. He continued to explain that the HIV/AIDS virus is manifested in oral cavities in the early stages. As a result, a dentist could be “a serious adjunct in terms of diagnosing HIV and other diseases”.
“Rotten teeth is the most prolific and prominent disease on the face of the earth, and to have poor oral health is going lead to a myriad problems,” Dr. McKenzie said.