The Nigerian Association of Paediatric Dentistry has called on the Federal Government to integrate oral healthcare into the primary healthcare system to prevent and reduce child dental neglect.
A Paediatric Dentist and member of NAPD, Professor Morenike Folayan, made the call on Monday during an online interaction with journalists.
She explained that there was a lack of access as less than 60 primary healthcare centres in the country offered dental care services.
According to Folayan, child dental neglect is a huge problem in Nigeria, adding, “Over 80 per cent of children do not have the holes in their teeth treated. We see parents presenting cases at the hospital only when there is pain.
“This is because we have few workforces and there is no access and some parents even travel over 200km to go and see a dentist.
“Child dental neglect means you are not giving that child what he should have. Dental care is a must for every child and we can do this by providing oral health services in all the PHCs across the country.”
Folayan said there should be an oral health package and counselling for pregnant women and mothers at PHCs from ante-natal to post-natal and immunisation periods.
According to her, it is an aberration that pregnant women and mothers in Nigeria do not receive oral health counselling for their children throughout the antenatal to immunisation period.
“Pregnant women with poor oral health can have problems such as pre-term birth and low birth weight. There are well-established facts and data for this.
“Also, some parents feel they can afford all sorts of sweet, biscuits and juice for their children, without regulation.
“At that early age, these children who take lots of surgery foods, start having holes in their teeth which affects their growth and development, including the development of the brain.
“Just like we have family planning packages in primary healthcare centres, there should also be oral health packages too,” she said.
Also speaking, a Paediatric Dentist at the Federal Medical Centre, Abeokuta, Dr Ibiyemi Oduyemi, said that every primary healthcare worker should be trained to provide basic oral health education to parents or mothers.
She said PHC health workers should be trained on how to refer pregnant women and mothers to dentists for dental checks and counselling for children.
“During ante-natal, post-natal and immunisation, mothers should be asked to see a Paediatric Dentist for proper counselling on their children’s oral health.
“This will help prevent any kind of dental problems in children,” she added.