Free dental checks for 100,000 people

Free dental checks will be provided to 100,000 people during Oral Health Week from May 9 to 14, says the Hong Kong Dental Association.

Those interested can inquire and make an appointment with dentists or clinics that display the Oral Health Week poster.

“We urge citizens to regularly get their teeth checked as the age of people suffering from gum disease in Hong Kong is gradually getting younger,” said association president Spencer Chan Chiu-yee.

Chan said that 60 percent of Hong Kong adults experience symptoms of gum disease, underscoring the need to enhance local awareness of oral health.

He said that periodontal disease may affect diabetes control and lead to heart disease, stomach cancer or other health problems. He urged people to receive regular oral examination and teeth cleaning every six to 12 months.

Chan said that the event will provide free oral examinations and, based on clinical diagnosis, determine whether a one-time X-ray is required.

“After checking, the dentist will provide an examination report. Citizens should seek medical treatment according to their individual needs, but this event will not provide other dental services [for free],” he said.

The event aims to strengthen the public’s understanding of daily oral care and develop a habit of regular oral examinations.

Meanwhile, Chan believes the manpower shortage for public dental services will be alleviated in three years, which is partly related to emigration trends.

He said many mid-level workers in Hong Kong have emigrated in recent years, affecting the dental industry.

The first cohort of dental graduates from University of Hong Kong are now reaching retirement age, sparking a wave of retirements in the industry.

Chan said the government has taken measures to address the issue. Given Hong Kong’s slower recovery pace in the current economic downturn, private market development and expansion in dentistry may also be slower.

He expects that most dental graduates will naturally flow towards the public hospital system, largely alleviating the manpower issue in two to three years.

His comments came as the Audit Commission on Wednesday revealed that dental patients queued for up to seven hours for government dental services, while the overall annual quota since the pandemic has been slashed in half despite huge demand.

In its report, the government watchdog outlined the Department of Health’s provision of emergency dental services, which are carried out during general public sessions at 11 government clinics.

Due to the pandemic and manpower shortage, the quota for government dental services has been halved from its original 40,322 in 2018/19 to 20,337 in 2022/23, while the quota allocation rate has increased from 92.3 to 99.2 percent.

marcus.lum@singtaonewscorp.com

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