Traditional oral health practices among Kanuri women of Borno State, Nigeria

Bukar, A, S Danfillo I, Adeleke OA, Ogunbodede E.  2004.  Traditional oral health practices among Kanuri women of Borno State, Nigeria, 2004/09/01. Odonto-stomatologie tropicale = Tropical dental journal. 27:25-31.


A structured questionnaire was administered on 495 women (urban 339, rural 156) from two LGAs of Borno State, Nigeria, using the interviewer method. The age range of the subjects was 12 to 80 years with a mean age (+/- SD) of 35.7 +/- 13.44 years. Majority (83.5%) did not have any formal education. Oral hygiene tools used by the respondents included toothbrush/paste 36 (7.9%), chewing stick 250 (54.9%), charcoal 159 (34.9%) and ordinary water 10 (2.2%). Of those using chewing sticks; 168 (67.2%) use Salvadora persica, 36 (14.4%) use Azadirachta indica and 46 (18.4%) use Eucalyptus camaldulensis. Forty (8.1%) of the respondents do not clean their teeth at all. Strong association was found between choice of teeth cleaning material and educational level (P=0.000). Three hundred and one (60.8%) of the respondents stain their teeth with flowers of Solanum incanum or Nicotania tabacum while, 218 (44.0%) perform tattooing of lip or gingivae and of this number 213 (97.7%) performed tattooing before marriage. Tattooing is usually performed without local anaesthesia with thorns of Balanites aegyptiaca and a mixture of charcoal & seeds of Acacia nilotica var. tomentosa as pigments. It is concluded that traditional oral health practices still constitute important part of the lifestyle in the study population.