By Calvin Penaco

MARAWI CITY, Lanao del Sur (PIA-TFBM-ICCC) — Dental caries and gingivitis are the most common dental problems among children of internally displaced persons (IDPs), a Marawi City Health Office (MCHO) dentist said.

“Ang mga nakita naming problema talaga dito sa mga bata ay dental caries at gingivitis at ito madalas ay dahil sa kakulangan ng dental health (We found out that the dental problems kids had were dental caries and Gingivitis, and this is usually because of the lack of dental health),” Dr. Samsida Gandamra said during a dental mission at the Sarimanok Transitional Site on Nov. 26.

Dental caries, according to, are cavities in the teeth formed by the action of bacteria, and gingivitis is the inflammation of the gums.

The MCHO team offered several dental services, including cavity varnish, fissure sealant, tooth extraction, and teeth cleaning.

A total of 45 children benefitted from the mission. Some 37 received cavity varnish and eight underwent tooth extraction.

She added that many parents are unaware that permanent teeth can start growing at the age of seven. This is why plenty of children already have overlapping teeth when visiting the dentist. It’s because they still have their temporary teeth, which should already have been removed.

“Advocacy namin ay awareness ng parents about sa dental health. Nandiyan naman ang city health office, every day naman kaming bukas. Iyong hindi namin maabot sa aming dental missions, doon nalang sila pumunta sa office para magawa namin iyong kaya namin (It is our advocacy to bring awareness to parents about dental health. The city health office is open every day, and we are always there. If we’re unable to reach them with our dental missions, they can visit us there so we can do what we can about their dental problems),” Gandamra said.

Since there are only two dentists at the Marawi City Health Office, she encouraged the education of parents on dental health to help them in addressing the dental problems of their children.

“Kahit gaano kami kagaling, hindi namin ma-cater ang 96 baranggays. Dalawang dentista lang sa Marawi City. Hindi talaga kaya. Kaya gusto talaga namin ma-aware ang mga magulang para sila na magtuturo sa mga anak nila (No matter how good we are, we are unable to cater to the needs of 96 baranggays. There are only two dentists in Marawi City. We really can’t handle it all. This is why we want parents to be aware about dental health so that they can teach it to their kids),” she added.

She also encouraged children to have dental prophylaxis or regular cleaning appointments with the dentist every 6 months. In that way, they can keep their teeth healthy, or at least prevent the worsening of dental problems.

The dental mission was a part of Task Force Bangon Marawi’s (TFBM) “Kumpas Barangay Serbisyo Caravan” – a campaign designed to bring government services to Marawi IDPs. (CTPenaco/PIA-ICCC)