October 6, 2015: Statistics from the World Health Organization indicate that Worldwide, 60–90% of school children and nearly 100% of adults have dental cavities. Dental cavities can be prevented by maintaining a constant low level of fluoride in the oral cavity. Oral disease in children and adults is higher among poor and disadvantaged population groups. Risk factors for oral diseases include an unhealthy diet, tobacco use, harmful alcohol use, poor oral hygiene, and social determinants. Severe periodontal (gum) disease, which may result in tooth loss, is found in 15–20% of middle-aged (35-44 years) adults.
As part of the oral health education strategies of the Ministry of Health, Wellness, Human Services and Gender Relations, a Spelling Bee Competition among primary schools spearheaded by the ministry’s Dental Department has been organized for schools around the island.
Colgate and Peter and Company are the main sponsors the competition which is now into its 5th year, aptly dubbed Colgate National Dental Spelling Bee Competition.
At the formal launch of the competition Senior Dental Surgeon at the Ministry of Health, Dr. Sherry Ephraim-Le Compte, acknowledged the sponsors for their unflinching support.
“Once again we have the opportunity to conduct the dental health promotion activity having received sponsorship from Colgate, Peter and Company and Paradise Water. These sponsors like us at the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education have appreciated the efforts of the teachers and students in making this activity so successful over the years. As with other years the objective of this health promotion activity is to broaden the mindset of the youth on oral care and dentistry. It also serves to augment the students vocabulary which allows them to understand allot of the jargon and technical terms used on a day to day basis in the dental field.” Le Compte noted.
She highlighted a change to the spelling bee booklet this year’s competition with the inclusion of a few more technical terms used in dentistry. “History has proven time and time again that St. Lucia has exceptional spellers in the primary schools. Last year’s competition was proof as the students spelled nearly all of the words correctly. We had to go into our reserve words to serve as tie breakers on more than one occasion. This year we have decided to include the reserve words from the start so the competition can be more competitive.”
Colgate’s Accounts Manager, Elizabeth Cumberbatch said oral health is the core of Colgates business. As such Colgate take an active roll in supporting oral health activities locally, regionally and internationally. She applauded the efforts of the Ministry of Health in increasing dental knowledge and awareness among school children at such an impressionable age. “Colgate’s logo is brighter and healthier smiles…This is our fifth year doing this activity and it has proven year after year that it is getting bigger and better. We can see it in the numbers, we can see it in the participation of the students. We can see how excited these students are to be able to spell and also to receive prizes.”
“The fact that we keep coming back means the organizers must be doing something very, very right,” said Chanelle Bailey, representative for Peter and Company and Paradise Water. “Just think about it for a moment the impact the powerful impact of empowering a young mind, that kind of empowerment is a skill that lasts a lifetime. A skill to benefit not just the child as a child but the child as they grow up, the schools, potential employers, our island and beyond…The importance and obvious connection of these two brands Colgate and Paradise Water to the theme for this year – Celebrating Healthy Smiles – cannot go unnoticed.”
Preliminary rounds of the Colgate National Spelling Bee Competition takes place throughout the month of November with the finals and prize giving ceremony scheduled for early December 2015.