Discussing social and economic factors in edentulism – Conclusions

Tooth loss can occur as a result of caries, periodontal diseases, trauma, tooth impaction, orthodontic reasons, hypoplasia, over-eruption, supernumerary teeth, attrition, neoplastic and cystic lesions.

Many studies have consistently shown the role of specific disease as a major cause of tooth loss.

This same picture was noted in similar Nigerian studies.

Okoisor further established that the disease factors responsible for tooth loss was age related; caries and periodontal diseases being the major causes of tooth mortality in children and adult respectively.

However, none of the studies done in Nigeria evaluated the role of other factors such as education, socio-economic status, gender, location of patients, dental attitude and behavior in the aetiology of edentulism.

The older age groups in this study required more removable complete dentures than the younger age groups, while the younger age groups required more removable partial dentures. This is in agreement with the study done by Marcus et al.

Although there was an over representation of age groups >61 and 21–40 in the study population, the percentages of these age groups in Nigerian population are four percent and 30% respectively in both urban and rural areas.

Hence these age groups have risk factors that might be responsible for their needing dentures.

These age-related changes may not be unconnected with the deteriorative physiological changes noticed after adolescence and which gets worse with increase in age, a situation that is changing rapidly in developed countries due to improved social infrastructure and functional health systems.

Most studies have also shown significant gender difference in edentulism with more males becoming edentulous than females.

This has been attributed to the fact that males are generally more active than females and do not pay as much attention to oral care.

A significant gender difference was not seen in this study although variation in site presentation was observed.

In Lagos, an urban area, more males demanded prostheses. However, in Ile-Ife, a rural area more females demanded prostheses. This is in agreement with the studies done by Eklund and Burt and Marcus et al.

Although no statistically significant difference was noted in the rural-urban gender presentation, a larger qualitative study alongside a quantitative study may be able to adduce possible reasons for this interesting observation.

The majority of this study’s population belonged to the higher education status. This was due to those with higher level of education being more informed about their health needs.

This group also seeks dental treatments earlier and more often than those of lower educational status, who may only seek dental treatment when there is apparent morbidity.

In addition, those of higher educational status are likely to have greater financial resources than those of lower educational status and, hence, more able to afford the cost of dental treatment.

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