Studies have shown that between 50 and 80 per cent of Nigerians have malocclusion or bad breath.
Dr. Ifeoma Utomi, President of the Nigeria Association of Orthodontist, who confirmed the development at the opening ceremony for the 9th Scientific Conference of the Nigerian Association of Orthodontics and the launching of the dental sensitisation and screening in Abuja on Monday, said that the situation could be due to lack of enough space for the teeth within the jaws, spacing or excess space for the teeth, missing teeth, extra teeth and other jaw problems.
Utomi said that some malocclusions were acquired or inherited and the acquired ones were as a result of bad oral habit such as thumb, finger sucking and tongue thrusting.
Other causes are lack of care of teeth, early loss of baby teeth due to tooth decay or accident, among others.
She said that the ratio of one orthodontist to about 3.1 million people was an enormous task.
She expressed the hope that government would fund the training of more dentists and orthodontists to address the gross shortfall.
“The professionals on the ground cannot cope with the number of patients that are coming. But if the government does not keep training people, the country will have a problem.
“We are optimistic that Nigeria will cope with the problem as time goes by,” Utomi said.
At the event, Mr. Linus Awute, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Health also lamented that Nigeria is short of orthodontists, with only 39 registered orthodontists attending to 50 per cent of Nigeria’s population that have poorly arranged teeth.
Awute, who was represented by Dr. Bola Alonge, the Consultant Specialist, Grade 1, Dentistry Division of the ministry at the sensitisation ceremony at the Command Secondary School, Lungi Barracks, Abuja, said that the association had a lot of work to do to increase awareness and access of Nigerians to orthodontic care to enable the populace live healthier and happier lives.
“The ministry has adopted a community participation approach which involves primary oral healthcare through promotion of oral healthcare in schools, markets and worship places.
“Introducing these target groups to good oral healthcare habits will prevent oral diseases, improve outcomes and enhance socio-economic status of Nigerians,” Dr. Alonge said.
She added that the National Oral Policy had provided the framework for the improvement of the oral healthcare services for the Nigerian populace and an eventual development of the health system.