Trinidad and Tobago has just 28 dentists in the public health sector compared to 137 really needed, lamented Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh, calling this reality “an absolute tragedy.” He spoke yesterday in the House of Representatives on his motion to allow changes to the list of approved universities training dentists, the Dental Profession (Amendment to the Schedule) Order 2017.
Deyalsingh said the country has 425 dentists in total (private and public sector.) Even this figure he lamented as giving an inadequate ratio of just one dentist to 3,212 citizens. “Why are you keeping the profession closed,” he lamented aloud, but not directing his ire towards anyone specific.
Deyalsingh said TT nationals have studied at the University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica and are now keen to come back to serve in TT but are being told “no”, but that they must first write a second exam in TT.
“Barriers are being put in their way. We want to pull down those barriers here today.” Deyalsingh used the debate to warn of the bodily harm posed by rotten teeth.
He said bacteria that breed in decaying teeth can migrate into the bloodstream to the heart and cause heart attacks, or cause strokes.
Likewise such bacteria can migrate to the penis and cause erectile dysfunction in males. “I thought I’d raise it with my colleague, no pun intended,” he said.