By Azoma Chikwe
The National Association of Orthodontists(NAO) has called on the government to invest more in the training of Orthodontists to check the dearth of professionals in the specialty.
The association made the call at a press briefing in Lagos to mark the World Orthodontist Day celebration, which was themed, ‘Orthodontist, creating healthy smiles for all ages.’
A Consultant Orthodontist with the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idi – Araba, Prof Ifeoma Utomi, said Nigeria has less than 70 Orthodontists to cater for its teeming population.
She said the association was doing a lot of advocacy to increase the number of doctors in this specialty so that Nigerians could be safe from quacks that don’t have the training to engage in orthodontic treatment.
“Part of the problem is that the training is very expensive, so you find out that government has limited resources and because of that the Teaching Hospitals where this training is done have limited funding which eventually makes them admit few people for the training each year. There is the need for the government to invest more in that area to encourage the training of Orthodontists,” Utomi said.
The Consultant Orthodontist said the association was focusing on children to prevent and correct conditions that could affect their dentition at an early age before they grow into adults.
“Children have a certain condition which through treatment we can stop now and they won’t carry it into adulthood. Right now the paradigm is prevention, especially in a country like ours where we don’t have resources.
“The causes of malocclusion can either be from the environment, genetic factors, it could also be from the habits the children indulge in such as digit sucking. If we don’t treat it early the problem that will arise will be so severe that the children will have to have a comprehensive orthodontist treatment, meaning they will wear fixed braces which are very expensive,” Utomi added.
Also, a Professor of Orthodontics at the College of Medicine, University of Lagos, Tosin Sanu, said Orthodontist is a specialty of dentistry that is concerned with the study and treatment of malocclusion.
She noted that malocclusion could affect people’s self-esteem and psychological condition. “Appearance is very important in this present age; someone can even lose a job because he or she doesn’t look good.
“We are bringing the awareness to the children because they always form the majority of our patients. If we are able to recognise and identify problems in this group, they can get the needed help so that when they continue to grow whatever the problems they have with their dentition would be solved,” Sanu said.
Contributing, Consultant Orthordontist, LUTH, Dr Ikenna Isiekwe, lamented there is a great gap in the number of orthordontists in the country and those that need their services. He noted that malocclusion can affect the speech and self-esteem of individuals.