Nigeria has Only 41 Orthodontists for 180 Million Citizens’

  • Majority are concentrated in the South-west, expert says

Martins Ifijeh

The Nigerian Association of Orthodontists (NAO), has stated that all over the country, there were only 41 registered orthodontist for the over 180 million persons in the country.

Speaking during the 10th annual conference of the association, the immediate past President of the association, Prof. Olayinka Otuyemi, said the dearth of orthodontists was affecting treatment of patients, hence the need for steps to be taken to increase the number.

According to him, Brazil with about 190 million people has over 250,000 orthodontists, whereas Nigeria has a paltry 41 of them. “We need to develop capacity and government really needs to come in to improve facilities for training because most of our hospitals in terms of facilities are not doing well,” he said.

Olayinka, who spoke on Contemporary Management of Adult Orthodontic Patients, said over the years, the type of patient seeking orthodontic treatment has changed from adolescent patients to adult patients, adding that globally the percentage of adults seeking treatment has increased to 25 per cent.

“We need to understand ways of treating adult patients, as they are quite different from adolescents in terms of behavioral, managerial and the problem they are having,” he added.
Also, the General Secretary of the association, Dr. Nkiru Folaranmi, said awareness and training of post graduate students was needed despite the fact that dentists find it difficult to settle in Nigeria.

According to him, part of the reason for the dearth of orthodontists was because many of them do not want to practise in the country. “We are calling on young dentists to major in orthodontics because only few are present in the country and the workload is overwhelming.”
He called on the government to focus on improving graduate training programmes, so that both more specialists will be graduating in medicine and dentistry.

Also speaking, the immediate past president of NAO, Dr. Oluranti Da Costa, called on the government to join the association in raising awareness on the importance of the specialty.
He said orthodontics was not all about cosmetic treatment, but therapeutic as well. “We also tackle disfiguration in patients with facial abnormalities.“Another important thing is that the very few orthodontics in the country are concentrated in the Southwest. There is need to be evenly distribution across the country,” she added.

On his part, the Vice President of the association, Dr. Babtunde Ogunbanjo, said the notion that orthodontic treatment was only meant for children should be discarded as adult patients were becoming on the rise.