Assessment of fluoride content of selected chewing sticks used in Nigeria
Introduction: In developing countries majority of the population, especially the rural population use chewing sticks to maintain oral hygiene. Fluoride if present in chewing sticks will confer similar protection against dental caries as fluoride dentifrice. Objective: To determine the fluoride content of commonly used chewing sticks in Nigeria. Materials and Methods: Fluoride was determined in 1 gram of each identified plant material commonly used as chewing sticks, by reading it on Atomic Absorption Spectrometer (AAS) at 286.5(µm) wave-length, after dissolving it with 25ml of 10% perchloric acid and 25ml of 10% nitric acid and filtered. Results: Fluoride was detected in all the chewing sticks with mean concentrations of 0.012% - 0.407% (54ppm – 1845ppm). The chewing stick from Zanthoxylum Zanthoxyloides has the highest mean concentration of fluoride (1845ppm), whilst the chewing stick from Mangifera Indica has the least fluoride (54ppm). Conclusion: Chewing stick from Zanthoxylum Zanthoxyloides has fluoride concentration slightly higher than regular toothpastes. If properly and regularly used it is likely to confer maximum anti-caries effect in users and deserves to be listed under home based topical fluoride products. Fluoride in chewing sticks has great public health implications for oral health community programmes for the prevention of caries in rural areas in developing countries. In developing countries where there have been cases of fluorosis in some communities, it is imperative to examine the other hidden sources of fluoride which evolve around the lifestyle of the people in the community and which could contribute to their total daily consumption of fluoride.
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