By Stephen Kalema

Uganda Dentist Association (UDA) has appealed to the government to invest more in oral health, research and move away from provision of only tooth extraction services in public health facilities.

Dr. Ayub. Twaha, the president UDA also said oral health was as important as other categories such as cancer, Aids and Tuberculosis (TB).
“Our government has been good at providing services of tooth extraction only. Most dentists only know how to extrac teeth yet we need other dental care services. But because those are the investments the government is proving, that’s what they (dentists) do,” Dr Twaha said at the Uganda Media Centre on Wednesday.
The health of the mouth, according to Dr Twaha, has a significant influence on the health of the whole body.
Dental conditions such as periodontal diseases (gum diseases) and dental caries (tooth decay) being the most oral health conditions in the country and world over, the attention given to them by the government is minimal which poses a challenge in achieving optimal dental health.
“The relationship between dental conditions and the non-communicable diseases is straight forward, both share the same risk factors; Gum disease increases the risk of heart problems and has been associated with miscarriages of fetus in some instances, worse with diabetes. Therefore oral health is also paramount so we call for more focus on it,” added Dr. Twaha.
According to Dr. Twaha more dental surgeons are still needed in Uganda if the government is to promote oral health. Currently the dentist to patient ratio is 1:125,000 yet World Health Organization recommends 1:8000.
UDA was formed in 1960 and so far has 320 surgeons serving serving 40 million Ugandans.
In response to Dr. Twaha’s appeal, Ministry of Health Focal dental surgeon Dr. Juliet Nabanjja said the government will to carry out training of dental surgeons using Masaka Referral Hospital as training ground.
“We are going to carry out training of dental surgeons and we shall only take those with at least bachelors degree in dental surgery. However the number of dental surgeons is still lacking,”  Dr. Maria Gorette NaKyonyi, a UDA member and dental surgeon with Jubilee Dental Clinic said.