Thursday, April 04, 2013

The medical neglect of the African mouth

In some ways, dentistry is the black sheep of the medical family. The social status of dentist in most places does not seem to be on a par with that of a (real) medical doctor. It is not entirely clear why this is the case, but there are conjectures. Perhaps because a trip to the dentist is commonly associated with pain, despite advances in dental anesthetics. Maybe it has to do with historical associations: what later was called 'dentistry' emerged from the Medieval practices of barbers, who besides cutting hair were self-proclaimed experts in tooth extraction. Or it could be that oral conditions are just not to be taken seriously, in the sense that they are generally not life-threatening: this is what separates the dentist from the cardiologist or neurosurgeon. In any case, when dentistry is taken less seriously, it is seen as a lesser priority by funders and policy makers, not to mention the faint attention it is generally given by bioethicists.

A recent article reminded me of the sorry state of dental research, practice and policy in Africa. When health care systems are compromised by poverty and civil conflict, dentistry is regarded as a luxury and treated accordingly.  The article is focused on Swaziland: a country of 1.2 million persons served by nine private dentists, along with another 15 public dental practitioners, although the latter do not have the specialized skills to conduct root canal procedures or the fitting of dentures. What's worse is that the diet of Swaziland (like much of Africa) is becoming more 'Westernized', i.e. more processed and sugary foods are hitting the markets, leading to cavities unlikely to be filled. A rise of a neo-Medieval practice of tooth extraction is likely to accompany the change in food habits.

While oral conditions are not typically life-threatening, anyone with a toothache (or other dental conditions) can attest to their negative impact on quality of life. And quality of life, on that level, anything but a luxury. Given the track record on affordable and equitable access to primary health care on the continent, as well as the traditional subservient position of dentistry within the culture of medicine, the road to better dental health and dental practice in Africa looks to be long, hard and bumpy.



 

Labels: , , ,

19 Comments:

Blogger tucsonamc said...

Hi there! great material you have provided thanks for this.
Tucson dentist

2:22 AM  
Blogger fountainamc said...

Thanks.I was in search of this kind of a blog.I like this.
Fountain Valley Dentist

2:45 AM  
Blogger rizwan atta said...

I like your blog.
You can also find here more information about reputable dental related problems in Las Vegas

3:02 AM  
Blogger Beverlay amc said...

I was in search of a health related article and I reached at your blog.I am really impressed to see that.You may like to see that.
Beverly Hills Cosmetic Dentist

3:14 AM  
Blogger vero amc said...

Thanks for this outclass blog. I like it so much.You may like to see this Vero Beach Dentist

3:22 AM  
Blogger cincinate amc said...

wooo! That's classic and informative blog.Thanks for publishing this.
Try this Cincinnati Dentist

3:29 AM  
Blogger Burn abay said...

I was in search of a great dental blog.Thanks for ending my search.

Burnaby dentist

3:40 AM  
Blogger Carlos said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

11:29 PM  
Blogger Carlos said...

Hello Stuart. Thanks for this article. Mouth care was something I wouldn't have considered or at least payed much attention to when thinking about the issues affecting underdeveloped countries and/or the people living in poverty. It's amazing how much we take for granted having good oral care. Oral conditions can greatly affect the nutrition intake, and therefore overall health, of a person.

11:30 PM  
Blogger Stuart Rennie said...

Thanks Carlos. And I am amused by the swarm of dental bot responses to the post ...

3:51 PM  
Blogger Thorough Lad said...

Your post is really well written and insightful. Glad I found your website, warm regards from me!
Invisalign Barnegat NJ

4:41 AM  
Blogger Joni Rana said...

Thanks for the insight you provide to the readers about cosmetic dentistry.
Immigration Consultants in Mohali

8:00 AM  
Blogger Edward Puriski said...

Make sure you explain to me that you're going to preserve this up! Its so very good and so critical. I cant wait around to read much more from you. I just feel like you know so a lot and know how to make men and women listen to what you have to say. This website is just as well amazing to be skipped. Great things, really. You should, You should keep it up!

12:54 PM  
Blogger zahid amc said...

This is a good blog. Your blog is very nice and interesting. I like it very much. I will tell my friend about your blog.
Brea Dentist

6:53 AM  
Blogger Edward Puriski said...

IT IS Genuinely Very Useful FOR ME.I LIKE YOUR Put up Simply because IT IS Very Useful FOR ME AS Effectively. HOPING THE Exact same Best Operate IN THE UP COMING Times ALSO. THANK YOU!
New denture repairs Chicago
Dentures and partials chicago

10:18 AM  
Blogger Kim_Burns said...

Very helpful stuff you've shared here. Me and my dental implant Austin clinic appreciates this so much! Keep sharing.

11:50 PM  
Blogger Arif Sorkar said...



Find doctors online and make appointments instantly for free! Search by reviews, insurances, zip and specialty
if you want more information click Here New York Doctors

9:24 AM  
Blogger Edward Puriski said...

Excellent website carry on the favorable work.

quality denture repairs
Dentures and partials chicago

4:50 PM  
Blogger Edward Puriski said...

Serious lover of your blog, a considerable number of your blog posts have really helped me out. Looking towards updates!
Best dentures and partials chicago
quality denture repairs

1:41 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home