Passion, commitment, in-depth knowledge, unparalled customer service and a transformative vision were what propelled Founder/CEO of Smile 360 Dental Specialists, Dr. Amy Traore-Shumbusho, from operating a small dental practice less than 10 years ago, to becoming one of Nigeria’s largest and most successful practices today. As the world celebrates the World Orthodontics Health Day, Traore-Shumbusho tells Funke Olaode about the importance of Orthodontists, benefits of having one’s teeth examined by orthodontists and while a great smile can boost and increase self-esteem
What is the World Orthodontics Health Day all about?
World Orthodontics Health Day falls on the 15th of May of every year. It is a day that has been set aside by the World Federation of Orthodontists that I am a Fellow Member to celebrate the specialty of orthodontics. And here in Nigeria at the Smile 360 our theme for this year celebration is “Creating Smiles for all ages”. We are celebrating it because we know that a lot of patients out there don’t even know what orthodontic means. We know about dentist, we don’t know what or who is orthodontist. Today, we want to explain and at the same time create awareness who is orthodontist is and what orthodontists do. And what are the benefits of orthodontic treatment. An orthodontist is different from dentist in the sense that after qualifying as a dentist then you go into three or four year or sometimes five or six years to become an orthodontist. A dentist looks at your teeth, your gums while an orthodontist looks at the alignment of your teeth. We look at the health of your teeth. Of course, people know an orthodontist as a specialist performing cosmetic side of dentistry because at the end of the day, we build healthy smiles and we also build beautiful smiles.
So the impact that the Orthodontist has to the people has to do with building more self-esteem and how to carry out that beautiful smiles that can impact their lives both from the health aspect and the cosmetic side. Today (May 15) we are creating that awareness so that people can know they can have orthodontic treatment done in Nigeria at Smile 360 just as there are other centers as well so that patient doesn’t have to travel abroad to have their orthodontic treatment done. The best service is available in Nigeria and we can say that we can deliver with international standard that is available out there. The second part is talking about the team for this year is creating healthy and beautiful smile for all ages. A lot of people are convinced that orthodontic is for teenagers or children meanwhile it is also for adult. At Smile 360 we have smaller, less visible, wireless braces that enable adults go into orthodontic treatment. So if for some reasons you are not happy with the smiles that you have or your parents couldn’t afford, we are in 2019, and in Nigeria, there is affordable orthodontic treatment with international standard and regardless of your age you can have an orthodontic treatment. And even if you are in high position and don’t want the wireless showing, there are aligners, ceramic braces so that adults up to the 80 years old can have an orthodontic treatment and you can start having orthodontic checkup as early as age seven you can assess how your new teeth are growing in that changing body that you have.
For how long has Smile 360 been celebrating the World Orthodontics Health Day?
This is the first time we are celebrating it in a big way but we have always promoted Orthodontics. We are one of the first centers that purposely built an Orthodontic Centre here in Nigeria. This is something that Smile 360 is known for and we will continue to create awareness about the Specialty. I am wearing three hats today because I am not only Clinical Director at Smile 360, I am also a Senior Orthodontist at Smile 360 and Vice-President for the Nigerian Association for Orthodontics. So I have that duty to create awareness about the Specialty in Nigeria. We are here to let the public know how to recognize an Orthodontist, making sure that Orthodontic treatment is done by a specialist that is eligible to practice orthodontic in Nigeria.
There is always the cliché that the treatment is for the rich. How expensive is it?
In terms of cost, people usually know that dentistry quite well has a price tag while Orthodontics is even more. But when you look at the benefit and the fact it is something that will impact your life. It is an investment for life. So I won’t say it is expensive. For instance, when we are paying for our children education it is an investment for their future and beyond the education, I think Orthodontics should be the next investment for any child out there because it is something that child will carry for the rest of his/her life.
If people have toothache or tooth problem the next thing is to look for a dentist. At what point does one start to look for an orthodontist?
What happens is that orthodontics is not just for a great smile. it is also put you in position for your teeth to survive. So we get a lot of people coming in with issues such as stability, tooth ache and teeth that are worn because they are in the wrong position so we refer them to an Orthodontist to put those teeth back into the right position.
We see a lot of people with deformity or teeth that are not properly arranged. What’s your thought?
Well, the awareness isn’t there, people don’t know that they can do something about their teeth even the rich ones. And that is why we are doing this in a big way to let people know that they can do something about the way they look, about their smile and health of their mouth. In Nigeria, you don’t have to suffer loss of teeth or bad smile. A lot of people don’t smile just because of their teeth alignment.
What bad habits can affect one’s teeth or oral hygiene?
From children, we have children sucking their thumbs, the tongue right from the womb that habit can push the jaw and deform the alignment of the teeth. It can also have an effect on your speech and how confident you are on your smile.
There is a limited number of orthodontists in Nigeria. What can be done to ensure that a lot of dentists specialise in this area?
The World Health Organisation recommends ratio of 1 to 600 doctors but in Nigeria we have about one to about 3,500. Two years ago, Nigeria has 50 orthodontists and now it is 70. The good thing is that the number is increasing but the ratio is ridiculous. We have one orthodontist attending to three million people. The problem is that those orthodontists are not busy enough. In as much as we are 70 they are still not busy and that is why we are creating this awareness so that people can know the benefits and consequences of not fixing them. You can imagine talking with gaps within your teeth, it will affect your speech apart from your self-confidence, and it affects your health. Even people out there who are highly placed. The work of orthodontist is to carefully move those teeth in right position. If you have an orthodontic treatment done by someone who is not a specialist you are at risk. So before you go ahead ask the right question.
What is the difference between a dentist and an orthodontist?
Well, a dentist fixes the teeth, fills the teeth and so on while an rrthodontic treatment can take 18 months to 24 months. It is a process. And during those two years you need regular visit of once in a month. Imagine if you want to go abroad every month for check-up definitely you will spend much. Here in Nigeria, we are more affordable and more importantly we deliver a world class and quality treatment you can get abroad. It is a way of building our country. We even have the ability now to do clear braces, we have the 3D digital printer combined with alignment technology where we can do our own alignment. It is something innovative that we are launching soon. Rather than having your treatment done in California or America you are able to have the same procedure done here. So we manufacture some of those braces and orthodontics appliances here.
For four consecutive years, Smile 360 Dental Specialists have won Nigerian Excellence Health Award. What makes you tick?
According to Health and Quality Manager, Smile 360 Dental Specialists, Dr. Apara Akinsanmi, basically, we have been very consistent and always being innovative in our work. We believe in Smile 360 and we want to be the foremost Specialist in terms of service delivery. We believe in customer service in such a way that to make sure that anybody that comes to our clinic will feel the warmth of home away from home. That way people are willing to come to us. That I believe has always endeared us to our clients. In terms of the award it is actually the people that nominate us and they vote and not the organisers. Then the organisers will come in to find if we meet up to the international standard and we always meet up. Again, we have been nominated for the fifth time. So it is about our brand and our services. We have standard that we adhere to and we will continue to build tirelessly to deliver the best.
Bring us up to speed about Smile 360’s corporate social responsibility
Every year the clinic carries out its corporate social responsibility under Project Smile which was launched four years ago where we offer the public the chance to have a beautiful smile free of charge. So far about 22 people have benefitted from this gesture. We will have the public to nominate and vote for the beneficiaries and state why we must make their smiles beautiful. We need people to know and understand that a smile doesn’t just change what your teeth look like but change you as a person. Your teeth can actually change you from an introvert to an extrovert. It boosts your confidence and opportunities around you.