A report of the situation of oral health diseases and accessibility of oral health services in Thailand in 2007 revealed that oral health was a severe health problem among Thai people. 80.64% of children aged 3-5, 89.57% of adults aged 35-44, and 96.15% of elderly suffered from delayed teeth. Low accessibility to oral health services was considered a key determinant. It was found that less than 40% of these aforementioned three age groups could access dental care services as needed.
The statistics in the last five years showed that significant oral health problems of Thailand consisted of decayed tooth and periodontal tooth(tooth mobility due to dental calculus and bone loss) which led to tooth lose at a young age. The ignorance of this problem can cause false teeth dependence and other health problems in the long run.
In Sakaew Province, there is a governmental-agencies network of oral health services-promotion, curing, and rehabilitation composed of a provincial hospital, six district hospitals, and thirty-eight local health centers with twenty-seven dentists and sixty-four dental nurse. All those health settings serve 544,100 populations. A ratio of dentist: population is 1 : 20,152 (1:6,713, nationally); whereas, a ratio of dental nurse: population is 1 : 8,502 (1:15,732, nationally). This ratio reflects a severe shortage of dentists in Sakaew province. Although the ratio of dental nurse was better than that of the country, it is still not enough to serve patients in the area since Sakaew province is a border-line province, one third of patients are those who came from the neighboring countries. Despite of a demographic constraint, each day, at least fifty patients seek oral care from each health setting. For sophisticated treatment such as root canal treatment, denture, impacted tooth, it might take more than one month to receive the service.
The minimum wage in Sakaew province is 103 baht a day (200 bath on average, nationally). Thus, an average household income in Sakaew province is much lower than of the whole country. Household debt certainly exists. The majority of people in Sakaew province are farmers and laborers with low education and economic status (live from hand to mouth). It is not surprised that people prefer earning their living to taking care of their health especially oral health which typically is not urgent. Many people leave until the condition gets worse and it is too late to keep their teeth. The loss of teeth results in the reduction of one’s quality of life. Moreover, time and cost of treatment increase as the severity of disease increases.
Oral health problem in Sakaew province is a complex problem. There are numerous obstacles to resolve the problem. It is necessary to conduct systematic study and use existing relevant resources to achieve oral health of people. A health promotion dimension should be more emphasized than curing and rehabilitation dimensions. To eliminate a weak point regarding a dentist shortage, health network and self care promotion was taken into account.