Dentists have called for more government’s intervention to reduce common dental problems such as gingivitis and carries. These, they said, are common oral problems which almost half of the population currently suffers from.
They stated this during the 50th anniversary of the Faculty of Dental Sciences, College of Medicine University of Lagos Idi-Araba.
Former Dean, Faculty of Dental Sciences, Lagos State College of Medicine Ikeja, Dr Tajudeen Ayodele Kekere-Ekun said oral health is very important to people’s overall health. This, he said, is because some of the problems that occur in the mouth may affect general medical conditions of the body.
He said failure to take care of the problem of the mouth will result in problems that may cause the teeth to develop some holes.
Kekere-Ekun said if the dental problem is not treated, it will affect the pulp, which is the living part of the teeth.
“If nothing is done, it will go down into the root to cause a widespread body infection,” he said.
He identified some of the challenges of dental health as lack of adequate modern equipment to treat patients, lack of consumables and teaching aids for students of dentistry.
Besides, there is need for expansion of the infrastructure so that more students can be trained.
“The population of Nigeria is about 170 million and the ratio between dentists and patients is horrible. Nigeria, at present, has about 3,000 dentists,” he said.
Kekere-Ekun said there was need for specialisation, adding: “We are doing this but there is a need to do more”.
Dentistry, he said, is more than the teeth, gum and tongue or mouth, adding that it now involves macillofacialcrania.
He urged the Ministry of Health to create a directorate for oral health so that dentistry can have greater attention in the scheme of things.
Kekere-Ekun said more facilities should be provided by various agencies of the federal and state governments to make dental treatment available to the people.
Dean, Faculty of Dental Sciences, College of Medicine University of Lagos Dr Godwin Arotiba said 50 years in the life of any man calls for retrospection.
He shared the same idea with Dr Kekere-Ekun on common dental diseases in Nigeria, urging the government to do something to improve the country’s oral health status.
He said gum disease is responsible for low sperm count in men while expectant mothers have low preterm babies when they have gum disease.
He said those who experience bleeding in the gum while brushing may have the disease, adding that people should brush their teeth after meal to remove debris (food particles) from their mouth.
“More importantly, dental carries and gingivitis should be put on National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS),” he said.
Former President, Nigeria Dental Association (NDA) Dr Clement Olojede said the Nigerian Oral Health policy, which was inaugurated in 2012, is not living up to its billing.
Olojede urged the government to bring key players together to make the policy workable.
“There are things that should be done for the immediate future, intermediate and long-term. The NDA and other stakeholders should be carried along,” he said.
He said dental clinics should be made the first port of call for people suffering from dental problems.
Olojede, who is the Secretary-General, African Regional Organisation of World Dental Organisation, said the government should make dental education more affordable.