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Self-assessed dental health knowledge of Nigerian Doctors

SO Nwhator
CO Olojede
O Ijarogbe
MO Agbaje


Objectives: To assess medical doctors' knowledge of common dental diseases and the need to include dental education in the Nigerian undergraduate medical curriculum.
Design: Cross-sectional multicentre non-random survey using a convenience sample.
Setting: Tertiary hospitals across two geo-political zones of Nigeria. Participants were mostly recruited while attending seminars and other departmental events which brought doctors together.
Subjects: Medical doctors in tertiary hospitals across two geo-political zones of Nigeria.
Main outcome measures: Knowledge of common dental diseases namely, dental caries, gingivitis and periodontitis was evaluated using an open-ended questionnaire. The definition, etiology, treatment and age-related risk were  assessed. Exposure to dental education during undergraduate training was assessed. Opinion on desirability and suggested length of future training were also assessed.
Results: A total of 127 doctors (35 interns, 30 residents, 34 senior residents and 28 consultants) participated in the study. Overall, knowledge of definition, etiology, treatment and relative prevalence were recorded. About 69 doctors (54.3%) correctly defined dental caries, 120 (94.5%) correctly defined gingivitis while only only 29 (22.8%) correctly defined chronic periodontitis. The proportions of respondents who correctly identified disease etiology were 26  (20.5%) for caries, 31 (24.4%) for gingivitis and 12 (9.4%) for chronic periodontitis. The proportions of respondents who correctly identified appropriate treatment modalities were 39 (30.7%) for caries, 18 (14.2%) for gingivitis and 6 (4.7%) for periodontitis. Those who correctly identified the relative, age-related prevalence of the three diseases were 81 (63.8%) for caries, 51 (40.2%) for gingivitis and 47 (37%) for periodontitis.
Conclusion: Most of the medical doctors who participated in the study demonstrated inadequate knowledge of  common dental diseases and about 97% of respondents supported the idea of including dental education into the current Nigerian undergraduate medical curriculum.

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