Granting Better Dental Care in Your Community
The Dental Support Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Nigeria. Dental Association of Nigeria, the local organization representing dentists in the country. The mission of the Foundation is to support community organizations that provide dental care to the underprivileged population of Nigeria and other local areas and to engage in other community service projects related to dental health care.
In Nigeria, we all Worried by the low level of low oral healthcare awareness, dental practitioners across the country have set up a Dental Support Foundation (DSF), to galvanize efforts towards the promotion, encouragement, and advancement of dental practice in Nigeria.
President of the Foundation, Dr. Bidemi Dawodu explained to journalists in Lagos recently, that the current high prevalence of oral diseases such as dental caries and periodontal disease should be seen as a major source of concern to professionals in the health sector, the government and the Nigerian people.
Dawodu submitted that the DSF, therefore, seeks to encourage the government to implement the Nigerian Oral Health Care Policy aimed at ensuring the creation of at least one dental care center in each local government with a view to improving the oral health of Nigerians.
“The support foundation which was incorporated three years ago will equally strive to encourage dental practitioners to undertake measures to improve public oral health and dental education; maintain the dignity of the dental profession; protect the rights and interests of young dentists; and create job opportunity for young dentists,” he said.
Other objectives, according to Dawodu, include reducing the burden of equipment acquisition to the barest minimum and fostering of friendship, co-operation, and co-existence amongst the members of the profession both young and old.
“The starting point is to create the awareness among the people about dental health care. It is so bad today that people don’t go to the dentist until they have serious pains in their mouths. But what is crucial is the implementation of the oral health policy passed by the National Assembly a long time ago,” he said.
Dawodu emphasized that the implementation of the policy will galvanize the oral health care and create employment for dentists because the cardinal point is the setting up of a dental clinic in all the local government areas in the country.
A member of the support foundation, Dr. Ademola Ademuson also said that the “support foundation we have come to add value and come see how to solve problems. There are a lot of problems in terms of getting jobs and getting access to funding which we are putting together to create a solution of work with every part of the dental ladder. To projects our aims and objective we decided to work with the media.”
Need for Dental Care
In Nigeria today tooth decay is the most common – and most preventable – health condition for children ages five to 17. Nationwide, 59 percent of children experience dental caries or cavities, and the condition follows them into adulthood.
It was estimated that in Lagos 27 percent of adults between 35 and 44 years old, and 30 percent of adults over 65 had untreated tooth decay, according to College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, Nigeria, and others.This amounts to hundreds of thousands of people with cavities that were never filled, and over time expanded through the teeth.
The Need is Great; Access is Challenging
Gum disease is also prevalent in people who do not brush regularly or floss and can lead to the loss of teeth.
Oral health is a critical component of one’s overall health. It affects the health of the rest of the body, especially for those with existing health conditions. Oral conditions and dental disease not only lead to pain and difficulty eating, they affect self-esteem, relationships, employment, and overall quality of life.
Most people did not receive dental services in the last year. The main reason given for not receiving dental care is the cost.
Access to Dental Services
Access to a dental care for low-income populations in Nigeria is fragile, and in some areas, is non-existent. Dental care for the indigent, the working poor, the developmentally and mentally disabled, and the elderly are more than challenging to obtain.
The number of adults and children in Nigeria who are in need of oral health care services is staggering. Yet literally thousands of our neighbors in
Northern and Eastern Nigeria who are low-income, disadvantaged, and uninsured – and others who are mentally or physically disabled – are unable to access or afford professional dental care.
The bottom line: people with low incomes and less education have less access to dental insurance, and therefore, less access to dental care. And because there is a direct link between education and lifetime income, they are also much less likely to afford the cost of dental care out-of-pocket when insurance is not available.
This vulnerable population of Nigerians relies on charitable clinics to receive dental care services that only licensed, trained dentists can provide. Dental Support Foundation is dedicated to ensuring that dental care is available, and the community clinics are delivering the highest quality care possible.
College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, Nigeria, and others