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Community Dent Oral Epidemiol. 1978 May;6(3):105-9.

Efficiency of traditional chewing sticks in oral hygiene programs among Ethiopian schoolchildren.


The effect of oral hygiene programs was studied in 248 children from five schoolclasses in Asella, Ethiopia. All children received professional toothcleaning after an initial clinical examination, and were again examined after a trial period of 3 months. The classes were assigned to the following procedures: one class received information and instruction in the use of the toothbrush, and a second class in the use of the mefaka, a wooden chewing stick traditionally used for oral cleaning. The children were advised to clean their teeth daily. Two other classes received similar information and instruction with regard to the toothbrush and the mefaka. Oral cleaning was then performed daily under direction and supervision, in one class with the toothbrush and in the other class with the mefaka. The fifth class was used as control. Instruction only was found to have no effect on the amount of oral deposits. Supervised oral cleaning, on the other hand, improved the oral hygiene of the schoolchildren significantly. The mefaka was found to be as effective as the toothbrush in removing oral deposits. It was concluded that the mefaka should be recommended for use in preventive dental programs in Ethiopia since it is effective, inexpensive, and familiar to the population.

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