Nigeria is the most populous black nation in the world. With about 180 million people, still can’t boast of 300 standard dental centres. The burden of oral diseases is huge and disturbing.
The health situation in Nigeria leaves room for much concern. Of the 191 member states of the World Health Organisation, Nigeria ranked – 184 in “Overall health goal attainment – 176 in Health expenditure per capital– 180 in terms of ‘Fairness in financial contribution to health’ and – 187 in ‘Overall health system system performance’ (WHO 2000).
Nigerian citizens still indulge in barbaric practices. Many still hold on to many 17th century myths concerning their dental health.
SOME COMMON TRADITIONAL ORAL HEALTH
PRACTICES IN NIGERIA
- Use of chewing sticks alone or as a supplement to tooth brush use
- Addition of stuffs directly to the teeth such as chemicals, drugs, kerosene, powder, etc.
- Rubbing herbs and cream into the gum of children
- Sharpening or trimming the front teeth
- Filing the teeth to create artificial open teeth/gap teeth (diastema)
- Removal of teeth whenever there is toothache
- Adding charcoal, ash, caustic soda to whiten the teeth
- Making a hole in the upper lip and inserting an ornament like ring
- Putting gold crowns on healthy teeth- especially among those who have been to mecca
- Associating/ ascribing diabolic powers to children born with teeth (natal teeth) or those who grow teeth within 28 days of birth (neonatal teeth)
- Rituals for children with lip deformity (cleft lip) etc.
Sources of oral epidemiological data in Nigeria has been mostly retrospective reviews of hospital-based data. From our knowledge of statistics, we know that selective hospital-based studies may not represent the actual community prevalence. Thus, an ideal community prevalence studies are lacking for most oral diseases/conditions in Nigeria.
READ MORE ABOUT DENTAL PROFESSION IN NIGERIA HERE.
There has never been a comprehensive National Oral Health Survey (NOHS) for Nigeria. Although, no National Oral Health Survey has been conducted, attempts have been made by some researchers to compile the pattern of oral diseases, in some parts of the country. Unlike in some countries where oral health surveys are conducted as part of the national population census.
We are still looking forward to that here because the burden of oral disease abounds.
THE TWO MAJOR ORAL DISEASE IN NIGERIA ARE: CARIES (CAVITIES, HOLES) AND PERIODONTAL DISEASE (GUM DISEASE)
RESULTS OF SOME SELECTIVE HOSPITAL-BASED STUDIES & COMMUNITIES-BASED STUDIES BY MANY DENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONALS ON ORAL DISEASES IN NIGERIA HAVE SHOWN THAT:
- An average child of 12 years old in urban or rural areas would have a decayed tooth, or missing tooth or filled tooth.
- Gum disease sets in from age 15yrs and above and most people do not have the habit of visiting dental clinics.
- Some aged people especially the rural dwellers from above 65years do not have teeth again and most of them are not aware that they can get replacement for their missing teeth in Nigeria
- About half of people above 65years have full complement of teeth especially the middle class people that urban dwellers
- Many children less than 14yrs of age suffer falls that damage the teeth especially their front teeth and most of them do not know that the shape can be restored, that the teeth can be treated and it won’t be discoloured afterwards
- There are many people who think wearing braces on the teeth is for fashion among the children of the elites. Few people only know that it is to correct crooked teeth
- There are very few dental facilities in the country and Nigerians that attend the available ones are so few as well.
- The few Nigerians who managed to attend dental clinics are discouraged by high cost of treatment. Here is how to choose dental clinic for you and your family as Nigerians
- Extraction is very popular in Nigeria because most clinic/ hospital attendants often come late to the clinic and the other commonest available treatment option for toothache which is Root canal Treatment is considered very expensive by many. You can check out these other treatment options available in Nigeria.
- Lagos state alone has 50% of dental facilities in the country
- Some states have about 5 standard dental centers while lagos alone has over 100 standard dental centers.
- Most Nigerians patronise patent medicine dealers (chemist shops) when they have toothache or other oral diseases.
- Most primary health centers in nigeria can not offer dental services to patients
- Nigerians dwelling in Lagos, Ibadan, Ile-Ife, Benin, Port-harcourt, Enugu, Abuja, Maiduguri & Kano, Calabar have added advantage of being close to institutions & teaching hospitals where dentists are trained every year and thus enjoy better dental services than others.
- From the look of things, it would be a very good idea if our politicians can add dental facilities to their constituency projects and help reduce the burden of oral diseases at the grass-root level.
- Nigerian politicians can make wide consultation on how to establish dental clinics at rural areas and help the masses who vote for them and yet suffer in silence, for many dental centres are in the cities.
- Religious bodies and other NGOs can also complement the government on this issue and make Nigerians have improved oral health.
- Communities can engage in community programs that can help create dental awareness among others, to teeming populations who do not have access to internet where they can easily get good information.
- Dental Professionals should also push for more so that we can extend our frontiers and have better reach especially on NHIS. Also, building Of More Dental Schools/ Facilities Especially By Able States.
NIGERIA @ 57! THOUGH, WE ARE NOT WHERE WE USED TO BE, WE STILL HAVE A LONG WAY TO GO. WE CAN ALWAYS GET BETTER AS A NATION
Long live Nigeria,
Long live Dental profession.