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Year : 2019  |  Volume : 5  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 1-5

Gender and oral health in Africa

1 Department of Surgery and Maxillofacial Surgery, Faculty of Clinical Medicine, College of Health Sciences, Delta State University, Abraka, Nigeria
2 Department of Periodontics, University of Benin, Benin City, Edo State, Nigeria

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Clement C Azodo
Room 21, 2nd Floor, Prof. A.O. Ejide Dental Complex, University of Benin Teaching Hospital, Benin City, Edo State
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijohr.ijohr_9_18

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Oral health constitutes an important part of general health. Caries and periodontal disease are the most common dental diseases globally. In Africa, the challenges of cancrum oris, acute necrotizing gingivitis, oral cancer, oral manifestations of HIV/AIDS, and maxillofacial trauma are also common especially among the low-socioeconomic communities. Gender is one variable that contributes to oral health status globally. Other variables include race and ethnicity, socioeconomic status, attitude to dentistry, level of education, and cultural values. There is an interplay between these variables and they can increase or diminish the effect gender has on oral health. Gender-based health inequities are apparent in early childhood and even in adulthood. Many families provide better nutrition for boys in the interest of maximizing future productivity given that boys are generally seen as breadwinners. The unfortunate practice of son preference, which occurs worldwide in different levels of severity, often leads young girls being neglected and therefore more likely to develop poor oral health, which is then left untreated. Good oral health has been associated with positive oral health beliefs and stability of beliefs. Women tend to have better and more stable oral health beliefs. This may contribute largely to why women have better oral health in modern society. Gender influence on oral health status is appreciable especially in an economically challenged region of Africa. For optimum oral health, efforts should be geared toward appropriate health care reforms, education of female children, elimination of gender discrimination, and implementation of oral health policies.

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