Oral health and the elderly in Nigeria: a case for oral health promotion

Ojofeitimi, E, Adedigba M, Ogunbodede E, R Fajemilehin B, Adegbehingbe B.  2008.  Oral health and the elderly in Nigeria: a case for oral health promotion, 2008/01/01. Gerodontology. 24:231-4.


To determine the prevalence of problems associated with chewing and the relationship with body mass index, the self-reported rating of oral health and normative oral hygiene assessment among the elderly.This was a descriptive community based study carried out in three locations in Ife-Ijesa zone (south western Nigeria). Elderly persons of 55 years and above were recruited through the religious organisations. All elderly who volunteered were assisted in completing a questionnaire on their socio-demographic status, chewing ability, any quadrant associated with problems and self-rating of oral health. An oral examination under a natural daylight using sterile wooden spatulae and an upright chair was carried out. The Oral Hygiene Index of Greene and Vermillion [Journal of the American Dental Association (1964) 61, p. 172] was used to determine the oral hygiene status.
The lower right quadrant had the highest frequency of complaint on difficulty with chewing (15.6%), and 44.1% of the subjects had problems with chewing. Twenty-nine per cent rated their oral health as poor or very poor. There was a statistically significant association between the rating of oral health and the presence of calculus (p = 0.022). This was also true for oral hygiene and having any problem with chewing (p = 0.001). The self-rating of oral health was not in agreement with that of the normative finding.
Health promotion focusing on the oral health of the elderly is a significant requirement for the study population. Proper evaluation of the effectiveness of traditional dentifrices must be carried out and interventions designed to address the possibility of improper usage.