Leading experts in the health sector have warned residents of Lagos and beyond not to neglect the care of their mouth, as according to them this could lead to deadly consequences.

The medical practitioners, mostly from the field of dentistry, stated that persons, who failed to take good care of their mouths and all organs inside it, risked developing dental diseases that could eventually lead to bigger problems including death. 

Speaking during the inauguration of Exclusive Smile and One for 10 initiatives by Beaconhill Smile Group, a dental health organisation, Commissioner for Health in Lagos, Prof Akin Abayomi, said there was the need for public and private partnership in the health sector to create more awareness and close the gaps in dental care in Nigeria.

He said, “It is important to use the private sector as a benchmark for standards in the public sector and also to establish some collaboration between the private and public sector in mentoring some of our young dentists in the public sector.

“Nigerians do not see the oral cavity as something that they should pay attention to but we want to change that narrative now and be able to particularly create more awareness and more preventative management, especially in young children and our entire population.”

Calling for more investment in oral health care in Nigeria to prevent medical tourism and brain drain, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Beaconhill Smile Clinics, Dr Oluwaseun Akinbobola, said that it was important for individuals to go for dental check at least once in a year to prevent poor oral hygiene and complications. 

He said, “We are trying to reverse the trend where doctors are relocating to Canada to practice. 

“We are encouraging foreign-trained Nigerian doctors to return to the country so we can give our people the best oral care, which they travel abroad to seek.

“Oral health care is very important and that is why we are raising awareness on this. Through our ‘One for 10 initiative’, we have been able to provide many Nigerians especially persons in rural areas free dental care.

“This is very important for the safety and wellbeing of individuals and the society at large.”

In 2016, then Minister of Health, Prof Isaac Adewole, said that fewer than 20 per cent of Nigerians had access to oral health care services, while an executive of Nigeria Dental Association, Dr M.O. Ashiwaju, said that fewer than 5,000 registered dentists are serving Nigeria’s teeming population.

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