We hadn’t heard of Dental Technology so were fascinated to learn more about it when we met this Dental Technologist. Ngozi Okafor, is a Dental Technologist and a lecturer at Federal School of Dental Therapy and Technology, Enugu, where they sure do put smiles on people’s faces. Dive in to learn more about Ngozi’s fascinating career path…
How old are you and where did you grow up?
I’m 33. I grew up in Enugu. I had my primary education at New Haven Primary School and my secondary education at Metropolitan Girls Secondary School. I then went to study at the Federal School of Dental Therapy and Technology. I also have a PGD in Education from the National Teaching Institute Kaduna and a Masters in Education Technology from National Open University of Nigeria. I also have another PGD in Corporate Management and Strategic Planning from Columbus University.
Tell us a little bit about your professional career.
I’m a lecturer at the Dental School in Enugu. I’m two step away from being a senior lecturer. I teach courses like the science and properties of dental material for year one and two students. I also teach an introductory course to dental materials.
Did you always want to go into Dentistry or was it something you fell into?
Right from my childhood I aspired to be a dentist. Now, my area of specialty is dental technology so I guess I’m close. It all started when Granddad sent me to buy something from the Aboki. I asked for what I wanted- I think it was matches and when the Aboki opened his mouth and this bright light shone out of his mouth, I ran off in a fright.
Granddad eventually explained that it was a gold crown and that it was safe for me to go back. From that moment, I was hooked on dentistry.
And, how are your teeth? Do you have any gold crowns?
My teeth are still intact; in all their natural glory!
How did you find out about the Federal School of Dental Technology and Therapy?
A friend of mine knew about my interest in dentistry and told me about the school. I didn’t score high enough in the Joint Admissions and Matriculations board (JAMB) exam to study Dentistry but I had the chance to go on this programme. The school has two departments- Dental Technology and Dental Therapy. Technology is about restoration and we have several branches where people can specialize in maxillofacial prostedontics, crown and bridges, or orthodontics.
How did you get your first job after you graduated?
After the programme, I had my one year compulsory internship with the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital (UNTH), Enugu. After that they offered me a place but hadn’t confirmed the date I would begin. The Dental School also called me and offered me a job which I immediately accepted. By the time UNTH called to confirm the job offer I had already started at the Dental School.
What is the best thing about being a Dental Technologist?
It is heart-warming to know that we bring confidence to patients who have lost hope. You get to derive joy from putting smiles on people’s faces.
What are some of the biggest challenges faced by Dental Technologists in Nigeria?
The programme is expensive because dental technology takes a lot of money. You also see many people who are interested in fixing their teeth but can’t do it because of money.
Another challenging part is working with clients. You are trying to build artificial teeth to come as close to perfection as possible. Sometimes you make a denture and it doesn’t look like the real one.
You also get elderly people who tell you that they prefer their old dentures even when you’ve made yours better. Sometimes, convincing patients to accept your work is tough!
Why did you decide to go into education?
I went into education because I have a dream of running a private secondary school of my own. I want a technology secondary school where everything is digital and everyone is computer literate. I’ll make it affordable for everyone.
You are married with kids, how have you been able to juggle family with career?
Its been with the help of God and so many supportive people around me. My husband, my mum and my relations have been helpful when I couldn’t be a hundred per cent there.