"I started the Oral Health Movement (OHM) 8020 programme after being part of Project Silver Screen – an external community outreach project. While conducting dental screening for seniors, my team and I observed that many of them did not have any teeth; those who had lost multiple teeth also did not have them replaced with dentures. Ideally, we should still have at least 20 teeth at the age of 80.
Therefore, the aim of OHM 8020 is to raise oral health awareness among Singaporeans aged 40 and above, to prevent tooth loss and decline in oral function (oral frailty) as they age. We work with community partners to conduct oral frailty screenings at various platforms and recommend preventive intervention programmes to improve oral frailty for those who are pre-frail or frail.
Helen Keller had once said, "Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.". I am fortunate and grateful to have a team of volunteers from the National Dental Centre Singapore who dedicate their time and energy to support our community outreach efforts. I recall a patient who was apprehensive and had not visited a dentist in years due to a bad experience. After much encouragement from our team, she managed to overcome her fear and allowed us to perform a dental examination.
It is moments like this - the feeling of knowing that I have helped someone – that fuels me to continue managing this programme in addition to my dentistry career. Especially so when I work with our seniors during dental screenings; they can now have access to quality oral care and increased awareness on the relationship between oral health and general health. I also find it joyful and rewarding to hear many interesting stories from the patients, learn from their experiences, and gain new perspectives on life.
I would like to encourage everyone to take the initiative to reach out and find ways that you can contribute to the community, even in a small way. Never underestimate the difference that you can make in the lives of others."