March 2010

Volume 27, Issue 1

Chewing stick use among African immigrants in West Philadelphia: implications for oral health providers

Authors: R.O. Wadenya N. Lopez P. Berthold
doi: 10.1922/CDH_2427Wadenya05

Abstract

Objectives: To explore tooth cleaning methods used by different groups of African immigrants residing in West Philadelphia and identify reasons for its continued use after migration to the U.S. Methods: Interviews and focus groups facilitated by two dentists of African descent were conducted during two African health fairs held in West Philadelphia. A total of fifty immigrants representing 15 countries volunteered to participate. Results: 100% of the participants used chewing stick in their home countries. 73% who continue its use after migration to the U.S. believe it is more effective as a tooth cleaning device and that it has medicinal value to the teeth, gums and body. Conclusion: Use of chewing stick as an oral hygiene tool persists among different groups of African immigrants after years of residence in the U.S. Oral health providers need to be more aware of alternative health practices used among diverse groups in their communities and determine their value in oral health care. Key Words: African immigrants, chewing sticks, dental care, oral hygiene.

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