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Unlike general routine health checkup, which still attracts patronage in Nigerian hospitals, the dentist profession, which is a specialised form of medicine, lacks the same level of patronage in Nigeria because Nigerians do not see the need to visit a dentist for routine checkup of their mouth organs, in respect to their teeth and gum.
Managing Dentist, Choice Dental, Dr. Sade Akiode, who raised the alarm, during an open day programme organised by Choice Dental to celebrate its friends and patients in Lagos, told THISDAY that lack of awareness on the part of Nigerians, remained the major cause of low dentist partronage in the country.
The lack of awareness syndrome, she said, was noticed four years ago when Choice Dental opened its dental clinic in Lagos, and that since then, she has been trying to raise the awareness level among Nigerians on the need to visit a dentist as least twice in a year.
“Most Nigerians do not visit the dentist, and we need to educate them more on the importance of a dentist in their family lives. The level of education about dentistry in Nigeria is still low because most people do not go to a dentist and they often show some pride about it, which for me, is an act of ignorance,” Akiode said.
According to her, a lot of dental diseases are preventable if people visit their Dentists regularly, but frowned to a situation where dental ailments have claimed the lives of Nigerians because they allowed it to degenerate into unmanageable situation.
“There is need for people to imbibe the culture of preventive dentistry, which is all about visiting the dentist regularly for routine checks and in the process, a lot of money is saved that could have been spent of dental diseases,” Akiode said, adding that the mouth is the gateway to the body and that whatever affects the mouth, affects the entire body system.
She said a lot of systemic diseases like heart disease, cancer, erectable dysfunction, speech defects and several ailments in human beings, have been linked to teeth and gum diseases.
While also blaming the low patronage on the inability of Dentists to carryout campaign that will enlighten Nigerians on the importance of taking good care of their teeth and gum, Akiode however explained that Dentists were not creating enough awareness about the profession because the profession limits them from carrying out certain advertisement about their jobs. “The professional body always insists that the work of a Dentist should speak for itself,” Akiode said.
She said the challenge before Dentists is a combination of government and the professional body, including the culture of Nigerians who do not believe they should visit a Dentist regularly.
She however advised Nigerians not to gamble with teeth and gum diseases, which she said could claim lives. She also advised Nigerians not to look down on the importance of dentistry, just as she called on Nigerians who know the importance of regular visitation to a Dentist, not to feel that visiting a Dentist could be very expensive. They must ensure that they visit the right Dentist and not quacks and also ensure that proper diagnosis is carried out on their mouth organs regularly, Akiode added.
In order to identify quacks in the profession, Akiode advised patients to have personal contact with the Dentist, and be convinced about the Dentist before settling for treatment.