Boost to Dental Care

Boost to Dental CareBoost to Dental Care

Around 8,500 new dental units have been purchased for state-run medical universities to facilitate access to affordable dental care and improve oral hygiene, said Health Minister Seyed Hassan Ghazizadeh Hashemi, on the sidelines of the recent Dentistry Day Conference in Tehran.

“On average, only 24% of healthcare spending by Iranians is on dental restoration treatments which reflect the lack of adequate financial support for the basic health service,” he said.

This year, (started March 20) complementary free insurance for dental health services will be provided for people aged 6 to 18, he added, IRNA reported.

According to the Iranian General Dentists Association, the number of decayed, missing and filled teeth among Iranians has increased by 300% compared to the last two decades. Currently, each Iranian over the age of 12 has at least 6 decayed, missing or filled teeth.

At the conference, Ali Akbar Sayyari, deputy minister of health, said, “Some preventive and restorative dental treatments will be added this year to the ‘Family Doctor’ plan which currently covers only basic emergency, maternal, pediatrics and elderly healthcare services.”

“We have allocated $29 million for dental services under the plan, while the previous government during its two-term tenure (2005-2013) had set aside only $580,000 for dental care in its annual budget,” he noted.

The Family Doctor plan launched in 2005 will undergo significant expansion in the new fiscal year.

In the previous year (ended March 19) priority was given to rural areas and small towns, a policy that will continue in the current year as well, he said. So far, 24 million people are covered by the plan.

Last year, 1,700 new physicians were appointed, bringing the total number of medical providers under the plan to 6,000, Sayyari added.    

According to official reports, roughly 40% of the Iranian population does not have proper or easy access to dental care.

Stating that the prevalence of dental diseases in the country is high, he said access to affordable oral hygiene would be improved. The new measures taken by the ministry will help reduce tooth decay.

  Students’ Health

Sayyari also pointed to the steps taken to improve students’ oral health. So far, 8 million students have been covered by the ‘fluoride varnish therapy’ and ‘fissure sealant’ preventive treatments. Further, electronic health records have been created for 4 million students.

Varnish fluoride is a substance that increases teeth resistance towards caries and decay, and is undertaken twice a year. It covers teeth similar to nail polish and protects and fortifies them.

Fissure sealants are plastic coatings that are painted on to the grooves of the back teeth. The sealant forms a protective layer that keeps food and bacteria from getting stuck in the tiny grooves in the teeth and causing decay.

“In addition to these treatments, restorative services including teeth fillings and root canals have been done for more than 500,000 students, free of charge.”

The number of students who have benefited from dental restoration services during the last year has increased 4-fold compared to two years ago.