Nigerian Dental Association (NDA) has urged Nigerians to take care of their oral health so as to reduce the burden of oral diseases.
NDA Chairman, Oyo State chapter, Dr Fechi Nkwocha, stated this at an event organised at St. Michael’s Primary School, Yemetu, Ibadan on Monday to commemorate the 2023 World Oral Health Day.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the event was organised in collaboration with Oyo State Ministry of Health.
NAN also reports that the theme of this year’s World Oral Health Day is “Be proud of your mouth for a lifetime of smile.”
According to Nkwocha, the theme focuses on the importance of oral health at all stages of life.
“The standard of the World Dental Federation (FDI) is that children should possess 20 baby teeth (milk teeth) to be considered healthy, while healthy adults should have a total of 32 permanent teeth and zero tooth decay.
“Seniors must have a total of 20 natural teeth at the end of their lives to be considered healthy.
“To achieve this feat of optimal oral health for all, all hands must be on deck.
“Individuals, parents, teachers, caregivers, health care providers, policy makers, government and non-governmental organisations must collaborate to produce a healthy and productive population,” she said.
Nkwocha said that the burden of oral diseases, such as gum disease (gingivitis, bleeding gums), dental caries (tooth decay) and periodontitis had been high in Nigeria, leading to loss of teeth.
According to her, this is due to poor awareness of good oral health practices and the wrong perception of oral disease as having no serious consequence on general health.
“We want to remind our citizens that oral diseases have been known to cause severe disability and death.
“Oral diseases have been implicated in heart diseases, poor insulin and glucose control in patients with diabetes, low birth weight in pregnant women, to mention but a few.
“Treatment of advanced dental diseases are costly and time-consuming but thankfully, many of these oral diseases are preventable and easily treated in early stages with good oral health practices,” she said.
The NDA chairman decried limited access to oral health care facilities and services to Nigerians.
“With an estimated population of about 218 million as at 2022, Nigeria has an estimated dentist-to-population ratio of 1:54000, but worse in rural areas.
“This is a far cry from the recommended ratio of one dentist to 5,000 people, hence another reason for the poor oral health profile,” she said.
In his address, Oyo State Commissioner for Health, Dr Bode Ladipo, said that the celebration was an opportunity to create awareness on the importance of oral health.
Ladipo, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Dr Olusoji Adeyanju, said that it was aimed at letting the public know that most oral health conditions were largely preventable and could be treated in their early stages without the associated morbidities.
“The WHO Global Oral Health Status Report (2022) estimated that oral diseases affect close to 3.5 billion people worldwide, with three out of four people affected in middle-income countries.
“This has made oral health a focus in the free health mission carried out across the 33 local government areas of the state on quarterly basis by the present administration.
“Free services are provided during this medical outreach and members of the community should take advantage of this quarterly activity,” he said.
Representative of the pupils of St. Michael’s Primary School and IMG Primary School, Taiwo Salami, appreciated kind gestures of the organisers of the free oral health programme. (NAN)
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