By GATONYE GATHURA
Almost a third of Kenya’s school going children and 13 per cent of adults are not smiling because they think their teeth are too embarrassing.
Half of these children recently told researchers from the School of Dental Sciences of the University of Nairobi that their friends and peers make fun of their teeth.
At the same time a significant number of these adults are not comfortable smiling to the world and many are already in problems with their spouses.
According to the first national dental survey in Kenya covering 1,462 respondents in 11 counties almost half of Kenya’s adult population had difficulty chewing or biting hard food.
The Kenya National Oral Health Survey 2015 was funded by the gum manufacturing multinational The Wrigley Company and largely executed by the University of Nairobi, School of Dental Sciences and adopted last month by the Ministry of Health.
Locking such a huge number of people from smiling, researchers say is denying them the pleasure of a function that releases stress, lowers blood pressure, boosts the immune system and makes one look attractive.
A smile is thought to help release a hormone called endorphin which is a natural painkiller hence smiling is thought to be a natural drug.
Among children, dissatisfaction with the appearance of their teeth increased with age thus 43.9 per cent of 15-year-olds said that they were not satisfied with their teeth appearance compared to 17.5 per cent of the five- year-olds.