Dr. Taylor Neal, who is one of two Liberian practicing Dentists, has disclosed that the oral health situation in the country is dismal and urgent action is needed on the part of the Ministry of Health and other health stakeholders to step up dental services.
Dr. Neal said there are only six dentists in the country to a population of nearly four million and that only two Liberians are among the six practicing dentists.
Dr. Neal, who is in private practice, and Dr. Ayele Ajavon-Cox, the other dentist, have now reached retirement but cannot leave as there are no other Liberian dentists in the country to cater to people with dental problems.
He spoke at a program organized by Smile for Liberia, a local NGO, yesterday, on World Oral Health Day (WOHD), which is also celebrated worldwide. The day was celebrated under the theme, “Healthy mouth, and health body.”
Touching on the situation within the Dentistry Department at the John F. Kennedy Hospital, he said most of the equipment that are being used there are obsolete, adding: “we need to get up to date instruments and infrastructure.”
He emphasized the need for more and better training for young Liberians who have an interest in the profession.
Dr. Neal said the oral cavity or mouth is a very important part of the human body. “Digestion begins in this cavity. While good things begin in this cavity, bad things also start there. So it is very important to have a healthy mouth,” he stated.
The Dentist said one important component in the oral cavity is the set of teeth, which according to him helps us to pronounce well and keep our mouth in shape.
Also speaking, Dr. Ajavon-Cox, who has been a practicing dentist for more than 40 years now, said the oral health sector needs the full support of the government.
Dr. Ajavon-Cox, who is the head of Smile for Liberia, disclosed that the Methodists have trained some mid-level young Liberians in dentistry, but they are now just sitting and doing nothing much. “This makes me feel terrible,” she added. She reemphasized that she and Dr. Neal have now reached retirement but can’t leave because there is no one to take their places.
Speaking on the importance of the day, she urged Liberians not to wait until their teeth or mouth start to hurt.
Dr. Ajavon-Cox’s Smile for Liberia, had invited several primary schools, including the Candlelight Christian Academy, Duport Road, Paynesville and Christian A. Richards, Elementary School, Clay-Ashland, Montserrado. Each of the two schools brought 20 kids and all of the 40 children were screened. Some adults, too, benefited from the free screening.
Importance of the WOHD
Over 90 percent of the world’s population will suffer from oral diseases in their lifetime. In addition, World Oral Health Day offers the dental and oral health community a platform to take action and help reduce the overall disease burden.
WOHD 2016 aims to get everyone to recognize the impact their oral health has on overall physical health and wellbeing to help inspire this change, the overall campaign platform.