Fifty beneficiaries among the elderly of Romblon, an island province that is part of the MIMAROPA region, received full dental care and fitted with dentures during the observation of the Elderly Filipino Week. Among the expected outcomes are improved nutritional status and overall quality of life.

The NgiTI, Ngipin para kay Tatang at Inang programme was conducted jointly by the local government of Odiongan and the Department of Health's oral health unit and held at the Romblon State University.

The beneficiaries, primarily those without a set of teeth were chosen a month before the event, are included in government's Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), an initiative of the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

A team of rural dentists were tasked to take measurements and impressions, under the supervision of Dr Maria Gracia Gabriel, Regional Manager of the DOH-MIMAROPA oral health unit.

"If there are oral problems among the elderly - such as having no teeth - it can result in malnutrition due to the inability to chew food, which is the top problem in the region," she explained.

Dr Gabriel stressed that even if these elderly are provided with food, if they cannot chew it properly then their bodies cannot absorb the nutrients these provide.

Meanwhile, DOH-MIMAROPA Regional Director Eduardo Janairo said the project is "also our way of expressing our gratitude to our elderly for their sacrifices in safeguarding our generation by keeping us safe and healthy as we also give them health protection to enjoy a more productive journey through life."

The regional health office earmarked PhP 750,000 for the dental programme, or Php 15,000 per denture set.

Other dental procedures offered during the dental mission are fissure sealant, flouride utilization, toothbrush drill, oral examination and case finding.

Director Janairo assured those who are in need of dentures but were not recipients this time around that they will continue the programme not only in Romblon but it other provinces of the region so that "every senior citizen will have their own set of dentures."

Other than dental services, health care professionals also delivered eye care services for the province, while senior citizens received routine medical check-up, free eye-check-up and eyeglasses, if necessary, and blood glucose testing.

The regional health chief further underscored the importance of caring for one's teeth as people grow old by regularly brushing and flossing after every meal. MIMS

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