Geraldine Naa Amanuah Ankrah said dental hygiene is so paramount to the wellbeing of all citizens, irrespective of geographical location.
She was speaking in an interview with the Ghana News Agency, in Accra, at the weekend, as she was the only dentist among the inducted 125 newly- qualified medical practitioners inducted into the Medical and Dental Council.
The young medical doctor plans to carry out aggressive public education on the importance of good dental care practice and whip up public interest in dental cleanliness.
“In fact, I have already started, I’ll brighten the corner wherever I am and then very soon it will spread,” she said.
“I have taken the Hippocratic Oath pledging ‘I will practice my profession with conscience and dignity.”
Unfortunately, she noted, dental care, does not get as much attention as general medicine practice.
Asked whether she would accept postings to the rural areas, Dr Ankrah said: “In some hospitals we still don’t have dental units or dental departments, so if it’s a rural area, which has the facilities, why not?
“So long as the relevant tools and facilities to work are available, I would be ready to serve”
She expressed gratitude to God for completing the medical course, saying: “I am more emotional than excited.” “The point is that I went through a lot, I won’t say financial
difficulties, but the language challenge, I am very grateful to God today that I am able to make it…A lot of us wrote the exams not everyone passed.”
Dr Ankrah completed her Dentistry Course in Russia, and did her pre- examination attachment in Ghana. Health officials say chronic gum disease caused by dental problems would most likely increase the risk of other health conditions including heart diseases, respiratory disorders and diabetic complications.
It could also affect the health of babies born to mothers with the disease. However, the dentistry profession is often forgotten in the globalised era where wider variety of food is eaten and there is a growing need for children and young people to have regular dental check-ups and treatment.
Unfortunately, Ghana faces acute supply of dentists as the World Health Organisation (WHO) data shows that in 2008 the country had only 148 dentists, which is equivalent to 0.06 dentists per 10,000 people.
This is in sharp contrast with the UK where there are 5.17 dentists per 10,000 people.
According to WHO, severe periodontal (gum) disease, which may result in tooth loss, is found in 15 to 20 per cent of middle-aged – 35 to 44 years.
It said the incidence of oral cancer ranges from one to 10 cases per 100 000 people in most countries while the prevalence is relatively higher in men, older people, and among people of low education and low income with Tobacco and alcohol being major causal factors.
By D.I. Laary, GNA