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Nigeria has only 84 qualified paediatric dentists left.

Oral Health Should be Incorporated into PHCs – NDA President

The President, Nigerian Dental Association, Dr. Tope Adeyemi, has said oral health should be incorporated into primary healthcare to curb oral diseases in Nigeria and associated health complications.

Adeyemi, also a consultant orthodontist at Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital, said the integration of oral health into primary healthcare would improve access to dental health and also address the knowledge gap in dental hygiene in the country which he said was poor.

He said that it was pertinent to draw the attention of the government to the limited access to oral healthcare services in the country, especially in the rural areas.

The NDA president who disclosed this during an interview with our correspondent also wants the National Health Insurance Authority to cover more dental services.

The dentist said, “Most of Nigeria’s primary healthcare centres do not have a dental presence, yet those centres are the closest to the people. It is the first place people usually go to.

“The Nigerian Dental Association abides by the National Oral Health Policy to ensure that oral healthcare is available at primary health centres. If that is done, it will increase dental awareness in the country.

“Oral health should be incorporated into every primary healthcare centre so that the ordinary Nigerian can have easy access to dental care.

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“Knowledge and awareness of dental hygiene is poor. Knowledge of aesthetics, occlusion, and arrangement of the teeth as well as solutions is even poorer, and many people have issues with the arrangement of their teeth.

“Some have resigned to fate, thinking that nothing can be done about it. But, whether it is natural or not, something can be done about it.”

Adeyemi noted that some of the most common dental diseases are prevalent in Nigeria.

He, however, said the control of these diseases is affected by the availability of manpower and dental services, especially in primary healthcare centres.

Stressing the need for more coverage of dental services by the NHIA, the oral health expert said, ” From our research, we have found that the National Health Insurance Authority covers a limited number of dental services.

“If they can increase the scope of dental services that are covered, it would go a long way.

“Also, moving some of the dental services, such as scaling and polishing, and simple extraction from secondary care to primary care, will go a long way in making oral healthcare readily available to people.”