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Teledentistry or telecommunication consultation with dentists is expected to increase the coverage of dental and oral health services in Indonesia, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin stated.
The ministry and the Indonesia Dental Association (PDGI) have issued new guidelines for dental and oral health services and developed free telemedicine services for patients so that they can consult dentists without having to meet face-to-face.
"Dental and oral health is one of the health problems that need our collective attention. Currently, dental and oral health problems in Indonesia are still very high," Sadikin said during a virtual press conference on 22 March.
57.6% of the Indonesian population has dental and oral problems, with the largest proportion of complaints related to cavities and swollen gums based on the 2018 Basic Health Research (Riskesdas) data.
The minister also highlighted that dental and oral problems cannot be ignored since they affect the quality of life of the community.
"Various factors that cause dental and oral problems are ranging from lack of awareness, reluctance, and difficulty in accessing professional health services," he said.
The data also shows that out of the 57.6 percent of the population with dental and oral health problems, only around 10.2% have access to dental health services.
Referring to the 2018 Riskesdas data, Sadikin said that behavior related to preventing dental health problems is not optimal. Only 2.8% brush their teeth properly, out of the 94.7% of people who have the habit of brushing their teeth every day.
Sadikin stated that education and synergy from various parties, including building public awareness on maintaining dental and oral health, will open in hope for achieving the 2030 caries-free Indonesia target.
The minister also lauded collaborations of private companies with the FDI World Dental Federation, PDGI, and dental volunteers in assisting Indonesians gain access to dental and oral care through teledentistry services and education through campaigns.
"I invite the public to take care of their teeth and mouth regularly by brushing their teeth twice a day in the morning and evening and doing regular check-ups with the dentist every six months," he said.