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Okinawa Kids Flunk Dental hygiene checks

Date Posted: 2004-05-20

Okinawans don’t brush their teeth after they eat. That is a finding by the Okinawa Prefecture Board of Education, which conducted a survey of all prefecture elementary and junior high school students.

All schools conduct dental clinic checks of their students each year, and the finding are discouraging. About 86% of the boys and 85% of the girls have cavities.

It is high compared to mainland schools, say officials. “It is very high. It is in many ways worse than on the mainland where only 70% of the girls and 66% of the boys have cavities.

Junior high school youth are even more prone to cavities. The boys clocked in at 88% and girls were even higher at 90%, said the Board of Education.

Teeth aren’t the only shortcoming for Okinawa youngsters. Eyesight is also reportedly bad

Prefecture Dentists Association director Kenji Kinjo says “It is because of home education. Here in Okinawa we are actually spoiling children when they are very small, like three years old. Then they should already brush after every meal, but at home not many children are brushing.” The dentist also says children are being given too many sweets by family members.

“Children shouldn’t get too many sweets. It is not only family members, but other relatives and friends who are encouraging the cavities. We need to start making three years old the age to begin brushing and good dental hygiene.”

The survey shows that about 50% of elementary school children do not brush after meals. Officials stress that family should encourage kids to brush their teeth.

Help is on the way now. Children examined and found to have cavities are now all getting dental treatment. Dentists are the business medical professionals on the island.

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