Research compiled by Unilever’s Pepsodent shows a huge inequality in access to professional dental care and advice in Ghana, with 70% of dentists practising in the two largest cities: Accra and Kumasi.
This disparity in access is severe in rural areas where problems of unequal distribution of oral health services, shortages informally trained dentists, and high costs of dental treatments are more pronounced. There are periodic outreach programmes organised by the Ministry of Health or NGOs reaching out to them.
In Ghana, there are 570 dentists currently serving the needs of 31 million population which implies a ratio of 1 dentist to 58,400 people. Out of about 298 public hospitals and polyclinics, there are only 84 dental facilities in the country. Of these, only 54 clinics have equipment in reasonably good condition. The rest are in various states of disrepair. This means that visiting a dentist to address oral health problems is often delayed, or problems are not treated at all.
Tooth loss has serious consequences affecting general health and wellbeing, quality of life, and economic and social opportunities, which exacerbate inequality.
Adults who have lost teeth have a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease and are at risk of malnutrition can experience sleep deficiency, be discriminated against or suffer a loss of self-confidence and anxiety. Having access to a dentist’s advice as soon as a problem arises is the most effective way to avoid serious dental outcomes like tooth loss.
Since 2005, Pepsodent has partnered with the FDI World Dental Federation, an independent organisation representing over 1 million dentists worldwide to drive awareness on the importance of oral health.
Joel Boateng, Category Manager for Oral Care, Unilever Ghana says, “As part of our brand’s ongoing mission to unleash the power of healthy smiles by eradicating oral disease for everyone, Pepsodent is providing a service which offers free access to advice from a registered dentist to tackle barriers to access such as distance and dentist availability. Oral health questions submitted via Pepsodent Ghana’s Facebook page will be answered by a dentist in a live streaming session to celebrate this year’s World Oral Health Day, the largest global awareness campaign for oral health”.
In addition, Pepsodent is providing free dental check-ups via dental screening centres around the country. Through these activities, we hope to encourage people to take control of their oral health and avoid severe pain, costly and complicated treatments, and ultimately tooth loss.
“Our World Oral Health Day 2022 campaign, themed, ‘Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late #TalkToADentist’ aims to help raise awareness to ensure people understand the importance of acting early, from the moment a problem arises,” notes Joel.
On his part, Dr. Paapa Puplampu, President of the Ghana Dental Association says, “People often ignore the warning signs of a problem, such as toothache or gum bleeding, hoping it will go away. However, talking to a dentist at the first sign of a problem can help to fix issues before they become serious. Understanding the terrible consequences of waiting such as severe pain, more difficult and costly treatments and ultimately, tooth loss, is vital to helping people realise why early identification and treatment is so important”.
He reiterated that oral health is closely tied to the overall health of the body and lauded Pepsodent for always coming up with educational programs to enlighten Ghanaians on oral health.