Reasons for late seeking of dental care among dental patients attending dental clinics at School of Dentistry MUHAS, Tanzania
Aim: To determine reasons for seeking dental care at late stages of oral diseases among dental patients attending the dental clinics at the School of Dentistry MUHAS. Materials and Methods: A total of 365 dental patients aged 15+ years who attended outpatient dental clinics of School of Dentistry MUHAS as first visit during the period of study participated in the study by being interviewed on their oral health care seeking behaviour. Results: Seventy nine percent of dental patients sought oral care due to pain from advanced caries lesions. Eighty percent of dental patients who had toothache had experienced 5 or more toothache episodes before they sought oral care. Reasons for delayed reporting for oral care were negligence (53.5%); poor dental services or visited but not treated (19.4%); financial reasons (14.8%); and dental fear (12.3%). Seventy seven percent of respondents who had toothache due to advanced dental caries were aware that the aching tooth was decayed, of which, 75.8% became aware two or more years before they reported for oral care. Early symptoms for dental caries were noted by 73.8%. Sixty nine percent of 23 respondents who had swelling/tumor reported late for oral care. Reasons for such delays were use of traditional medicine (43.8%) and financial (25.0%). Conclusion: Majority of dental patients sought oral care due to pain from advanced caries lesions. Negligence was the main reason for not seeking care early. Education on the importance of early reporting to dental facility for care is recommended.
Key words: reasons for seeking dental care late, dental patients, Tanzania