Oral hygiene knowledge and practice among Dinka and Nuer from Sudan to the U.S.

Mary S. Willis, Rachel M. Bothun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to determine knowledge and use of oral hygiene methods for refugees from Sudan now living in the U.S. prior to conducting elective implant surgery. The sample included 34 adults of the Dinka or Nuer tribes who participated in 1 or more phases of a project to restore 6 lower anterior teeth with implants. An English language survey was administered by an interpreter for whom Dinka or Nuer was a first language. Each interpreter underwent an elective restorative procedure prior to acting as an interpreter. The project survey covered demographics, traditional and current oral hygiene practices, perceived aesthetics and dental visits since arrival to the U.S. Data analyses revealed that male participants outnumbered female participants, and all were under 30 years of age. Traditional dental practices paralleled Western oral hygiene methods and current oral hygiene involved 1 brushing event per day and prevalent toothpick use. Most participants wished to have all teeth in place, bright white coloration and a maxillary diastema. Few had visited a U.S. dental facility more than once, and none were using biannual checkups to maintain dental health. All participants required detailed oral hygiene education to fill the knowledge gap between traditional and U.S. systems and to maintain their newly restored dental health status. Refugees arriving to the U.S. from a non-Western country may be in great need of Western oral hygiene training to create or maintain a high dental health status. Resettlement programs should include dental screening, treatment and oral hygiene training to prevent further decline in dental health status.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)306-315
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of dental hygiene : JDH / American Dental Hygienists' Association
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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