Why February is National Dental Health Month in the Philippines

Is it a coincidence that National Dental Health Month is also on February, considering that Valentine’s Day is usually a time for giving chocolates and sweets?

February celebrates a lot of holidays—like the start of Chinese New Year, National Arts Month, Valentine’s Day, and now, even National Dental Health Month!

Just when all the holidays that involve eating and sweets come into full swing, another holiday swoops in to remind everyone to keep their teeth and mouth clean. That way, they can continue enjoying all the goodies the holidays and the year have to offer!

What is National Dental Health Month?

Originally a week-long celebration, National Dental Health Month only became official when former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo signed it in Presidential Proclamation 559, s. 2004 on February 24, 2004.

In 1951, National Dental Health Week only ran from February 3 to 9 which was signed by former and late president Elpido Quirino in Presidential Proclamation 235, s. 1951. According to the proclamation, Quirino wrote that “the dental profession plays a vital role in the maintenance of a healthy citizenry” and that he wanted to “arouse people into being more aware of it [dental health].”

Unfortunately, many Filipinos are still unaware or don’t avail of dental services as often as they should.

What’s the current state of Filipino teeth?

Because most Filipino dishes are heavy on salt and sugar, many Filipinos end up with tooth decay and gum problems unfortunately. In a 2018 survey from the Department of Health, over 72% of Filipinos suffered from tooth decay. And in 2022 during a media forum, the Department of Health from Northern Mindanao reported that over 87% of the natives of the region suffered from dental problems.

As to why Filipinos don’t see the dentist often, some don’t see dental health services as a necessity—especially if they feel they don’t have the budget for it (Butani, Weintraub, and Barker, 2008; Dalanon, Diano, Esguerra, Belarmino, Docor, Rodis, Locsin, and Matsuka, 2018).

On the other hand, others feel that the progress and advancements in dentistry are still falling short, especially in surgery (de Dios, Murjani, Chua, Serraon, Veluz, Virata, and Tan, 2010). Some Filipinos are more prone to having impacted wisdom teeth (the tooth buries itself in the gums). And that requires surgery. Dentists need to cut open the gums and remove the in-grown tooth before it becomes an infection.

But what many of us forget is that if our teeth hurt, we can’t enjoy our food either! Some studies have established a relationship between severe dental decay to kids being malnourished and underweight (Benzian, Monse, Heinrich-Weltzein, Hobdell, Mulder, and van Palenstein Helderman, 2011; Azzolino, Passarelli, De Angelis, Piccirillo, D’Addona, and Cesari, 2019).

Kids who suffer from dental diseases also show slower weight gain (Dujister, Sheiham, Hobdell, Itchon, and Monse, 2013), which is bad, especially since some developmental milestones are said to be weight-based.

How did people celebrate National Dental Health Month?

Last 2023, the Department of Health celebrated National Dental Health Month with the theme “Ngiping Protektado, Ngiting Panalo.” Coordinating with the regional health offices (the ones who also manage the public hospitals), the provincial health officers (PHOs) then traveled to the different provinces to raise awareness for dental health.

The University of Baguio also held its own celebrations during the 19th anniversary of National Dental Health Month in February 2023. Despite the fears of contracting the flu, the students paraded around to share a smile with everyone while bringing awareness to the citizens in Baguio.

And for 2024, National Dental Health Month, according to the Department of Education in Cagayan Valley, would have the theme “Celebrating Decades of Healthy Smiles.” Because it’s the month’s 20-year anniversary after its declaration, we’re thinking that people deserve a big smile this year.

After all, a smile can help someone get through their day!

Have our teeth checked this month

Dental health is an expense, but working parents whose companies partner with Health Management Organizations (HMO) do have dental services as part of the insurance packages. And while wisdom tooth extractions aren’t usually part of the package, some insurance companies cover prophylaxis. These are kind of like a deep cleaning for teeth which can prevent cavities.

Besides, if we’re going out on a date, having a dental check-up can get rid of that pesky bad breath. Nobody wants to scare somebody off by just breathing on them!


Azzolino, D., Passarelli, P. C., De Angelis, P., Piccirillo, G. B., D’Addona, A., & Cesari, M. (2019). Poor oral health as a determinant of malnutrition and sarcopenia. Nutrients11(12), 2898.

Benzian, H., Monse, B., Heinrich-Weltzien, R., Hobdell, M., Mulder, J., & van Palenstein Helderman, W. (2011). Untreated severe dental decay: a neglected determinant of low Body Mass Index in 12-year-old Filipino children. BMC public health11(1), 1-10.

Butani, Y., Weintraub, J. A., & Barker, J. C. (2008). Oral health-related cultural beliefs for four racial/ethnic groups: Assessment of the literature. BMC oral health8, 1-13.

Dalanon, J., Diano, L., Esguerra, R., Belarmino, M. P., Docor, M. R., Rodis, O. M., Locsin, R. & Matsuka, Y. (2018). The Cebuano Mothers’ Willingness to Pay for Dental Healthcare. J Philippine Dent Asso65, 33-7.

de Dios, N. V., Murjani, B. V., Chua, Y. V. D., Serraon, A. P., Veluz, M. A. R., Virata, V. C., & Tan, M. A. (2010). Clinical periodontal practice: The Philippine scenario. Periodontics: Beyond the pocket, 49.

Duijster, D., Sheiham, A., Hobdell, M. H., Itchon, G., & Monse, B. (2013). Associations between oral health-related impacts and rate of weight gain after extraction of pulpally involved teeth in underweight preschool Filipino children. BMC Public Health13(1), 1-9.

More celebrations in February?

How Families Can Celebrate Chinese New Year According to Marites Allen
11 Valentines Day Date-Worthy Restaurants: Quezon City Edition
National Arts Month in February 2024

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