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Prevalence of oral pain and barriers to use of emergency oral care facilities among adult Tanzanians

Author(s): Kikwilu Emil | Masalu Joyce | Kahabuka Febronia | Senkoro Ahadieli

Journal: BMC Oral Health
ISSN 1472-6831

Volume: 8;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 28;
Date: 2008;
Original page

Abstract Background Oral pain has been the major cause of the attendances in the dental clinics in Tanzania. Some patients postpone seeing the dentist for as long as two to five days. This study determines the prevalence of oral pain and barriers to use of emergency oral care in Tanzania. Methods Questionnaire data were collected from 1,759 adult respondents aged 18 years and above. The study area covered six urban and eight rural study clusters, which had been selected using the WHO Pathfinder methodology. Chi-square tests and logistic regression analyses were performed to identify associations. Results Forty two percent of the respondents had utilized the oral health care facilities sometimes in their lifetime. About 59% of the respondents revealed that they had suffered from oral pain and/or discomfort within the twelve months that preceded the study, but only 26.5% of these had sought treatment from oral health care facilities. The reasons for not seeking emergency care were: lack of money to pay for treatment (27.9%); self medication (17.6%); respondents thinking that pain would disappear with time (15.7%); and lack of money to pay for transport to the dental clinic (15.0%). Older adults were more likely to report that they had experienced oral pain during the last 12 months than the younger adults (OR = 1.57, CI 1.07–1.57, P < 0.001). Respondents from rural areas were more likely report dental clinics far from home (OR = 5.31, CI = 2.09–13.54, P < 0.001); self medication at home (OR = 3.65, CI = 2.25–5.94, P < 0.001); and being treated by traditional healer (OR = 5.31, CI = 2.25–12.49, P < 0.001) as reasons for not seeking emergency care from the oral health care facilities than their counterparts from urban areas. Conclusion Oral pain and discomfort were prevalent among adult Tanzanians. Only a quarter of those who experienced oral pain or discomfort sought emergency oral care from oral health care facilities. Self medication was used as an alternative to using oral care facilities mainly by rural residents. Establishing oral care facilities in rural areas is recommended.
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