Jamaica’s dentistry now getting world-class attention
Members of the local dental fraternity got a chance to interface with one of the foremost authorities on oral surgery last week when Dr Karl Koerner, the renowned United States-based dental educator, visited the island and did collaborative work with the dental schools at the University of the West Indies (UWI) and the University of Technology.
"Dr Karl Koerner came here to set in place a continuing dental education programme in the area of oral surgery, as this is what is lacking in the skills of many
dentists, even years after graduation from the dental school," said Dr Christopher Ogunsalu, the director of the Dental Institute of the Caribbean and a senior lecturer at the UWI.
"It was really great to have a professional of his stature coming here to interface with our students."
According to Ogunsalu, the regent of the International College of Dentists in the English-speaking Caribbean and councillor-at-large on the International council of the International College of Dentists, Koerner's visit complements the work that he has been doing in preparing local dental students to become proficient in oral surgery.
"It is time-consuming teaching and, as such, I have to bring other people into the Institute to assist," said Ogunsalu.
"Dr Koerner has been offered the post of deputy director (clinical) to the Dental Institute of the Caribbean ... he is a general dentist, who performs only oral surgery treatment.
"In the past 14 years, Dr Koerner has removed wisdom teeth from over 15,000 patients; he does other oral surgery procedures such as extractions of other teeth than wisdom teeth, biopsies, apicoectomies, bone grafting and gum surgery," said Ogunsalu. "Dr Koerner is a diplomat of the International Congress of Oral Implantologists. He has just been nominated for the prestigious award of the Fellowship of the International College of Dentists for his enormous contribution to dentistry worldwide."
Within recent years, there has been much focus on the quality of dentists being trained at the two dental schools in Jamaica. Ogunsalu believes that the existing competition between the two schools is actually good as, according to him, it will bring world-class standards into local dental education and eventually it will lead into collaborations between the two schools.
In 2008, on the invitation and deanship of Professor Archibald McDonald, now principal of the University of the West Indies, Mona campus, Ogunsalu, vice-president and member of the credential committee of the International Congress of Oral Implantologists, was asked to develop and establish the UWI Dental Programme.
Over the past 15 years, the Nigerian-born Ogunsalu, who has acquired Jamaican citizenship, has propagated dental implant education throughout the Caribbean and Africa. He has trained and certified most of the dentists placing implants in Jamaica, Trinidad, Barbados, The Bahamas, Antigua and St Vincent. To his credit, he has trained almost all the dentists in East Africa and West Africa, who are currently doing implants.