Pattern of Orthodontic Referrals at a Tertiary Hospital in South-south Nigeria
Background: The growth and survival of an orthodontic practice is determined by various factors; prominent among which is an increasing and sustained patients patronage. Such patronage is facilitated through public awareness particularly referrals from dental generalists and specialists, patients’ recommendations as well as print and electronic media.
Aim: To determine the pattern of patients’ referrals to the Orthodontic Unit of the Department of Child Dental Health, University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital, Port-Harcourt, Nigeria.
Materials and Methods: A 5 year retrospective study of patients that presented at the orthodontic clinic of the hospital.
Results: A total of 248 patients comprising 142 females (57.3%) and 106 males (42.7%) with a mean age of 12.9±7.3 years presented at the orthodontic clinic between January 2012 and December 2016. Majority of these patients were under 18 years old (199, 80.2%). More than half of the patients (143, 57.7%) were referred from the Oral Diagnosis Department of the hospital. Twenty four patients (9.7%) were referred by dental specialists (consultants). Twenty two (8.9%) of the patients were self referred, while out of 31(12.5%) patients referred by general dental practitioners only 5 (16.1%) were referred from outside of Rivers State. The most prevalent presenting complaints were badly arranged teeth (144,58.1%) and increased overjet (42,16.9%).
Conclusion: Majority of the patients seen were females referred from the Oral Diagnosis Department in the Dental Centre of the hospital for badly arranged teeth. Dental health professionals were the major referrers.
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