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FACTORS INFLUENCING CHOICE OF ORAL HYGIENE PRODUCTS BY DENTAL PATIENTS IN A NIGERIAN TEACHING HOSPITAL

1Dr. Opeodu O.I., 2Dr. Gbadebo S.O.

1. Department of Periodontology and Community Dentistry, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, Ibadan

2. Department of Restorative Dentistry, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, Ibadan


ABSTRACT

Background: Several factors, such as cost, branding, packaging and family influence, had been implicated as influencing the choice of toothpastes and toothbrushes by individuals. Media advertisement is also considered a very strong factor influencing consumer’s choice.

Aim: To assess the extent to which some factors influenced the choice of toothpastes and toothbrushes among dental patients in a Nigerian teaching hospital.

Materials and methods: Two-hundred and two patients were interviewed on factors that influenced their choice of toothbrush and toothpaste. Some of the factors considered include the cost, packaging, brand, media advertisement and their previous experience.

Result: Factors that affected choice of toothbrush by respondents included texture (89.6%), brand (62.9%), previous experience (64.4%) and for toothpaste, fluoride content (62.4%), previous experience (69.3%), and advice by a dentist (55.0%). Media advertisement was the least influential in their choice of toothpaste (29.2%) and toothbrush (24.3%). Consideration for fluoride was a stronger factor than herbal contents in the choice of toothpaste (P<0.001)

Conclusion: Previous experience seems to be a very strong factor in the choice of both the toothbrush and toothpaste in this study, which suggest that for as long as the respondents are satisfied with a particular product, they will stick to it.

Keywords: Choice, toothpaste, toothbrush, dental, out-patients


INTRODUCTION

The choice of dentifrice used in tooth brushing varies from one household to the other and some factors are definitely responsible for this. Some of the factors that had been implicated in determining choice of dentifrice include socioeconomic factors, design or packaging and advertisement. 1 – 3 Some other factors that had been considered as important in the choice of toothpaste brand include the smell of the paste, perceived performance, awareness by the consumers and some other attributes of the paste.

Different designs and packaging of products have been used by manufacturers to gain an added advantage over other competing manufacturers of similar products. This has resulted in some companies specialising on product design as a competitive tool. 1 These efforts are geared towards attracting and retaining the attention of consumers concerning a particular product. Appearance of products had been reported to have some of the following effects on the consumers, attention drawing, functionalities, aesthetics and symbolic. The appearance of a product is supposed to draw the attention of a would-be consumer, while at the same time, it should communicate the brand image of the product. 1Brand is the aspect of a product or service that distinguishes such product/service from any other type of its kind. Brand is defined by the American Marketing Association as, “a name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s product or service as distinct from those of another seller. 3 However, apart from the effect of the branding on the producer of goods and services, choice of brands had been used to determine the status, taste and socioeconomic class of a user.

Another factor that may go a long way in determining the choice of toothpaste by a consumer is the content of the paste. Some consumers are concerned with the herbal contents, while others are concerned about the fluoride content. Anecdotal reports have it that the majority of consumers of toothpaste in Nigeria are more concerned about the herbal content, while the dentists are those more concerned about the fluoride content. Though many studies have reported the importance of fluoride content of toothpaste in the prevention of dental caries, 5, 6 a study has reported that fluoride containing toothpaste may not be globally affordable, 6 which could be a factor in a consumer’s choice as the cost of the paste will come in to affect the choice by the consumer. Many functions had been attributed to herbal toothpastes, which include anti-cariogenic effects and “clearing of internal heat”. 5, 7 Kumar et al, reported that herbal toothpastes are as potent as three other conventional toothpastes in their anti-cariogenic effect, 5 while another study reported that a toothpaste containing herbal product is able to “clear internal heat”, which was described as including oral diseases such as toothache and sore or bleeding gums by traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). 7 Such a claim like this will presumably influence the decision of consumers concerning their choice of toothpastes.   

Anecdotal report has it that many individuals especially in this part of the world believe that the harder the bristles of their toothbrushes, the more effective the toothbrush as they have the sense of accomplishment after their tooth brushing. While there might be psychological satisfaction from the use of such hard-textured toothbrushes, there is the increased danger to both the hard and soft tissue within the mouth as the gingivae will be more predisposed to recession, while the tooth will be more predisposed to cervical abrasion. 8 Therefore, this study was conducted to ascertain the various reasons that inform the choice of oral hygiene products by dental patients in the University College Hospital, Ibadan, Nigeria. The authors hope that the result of the study will help in the formulation of appropriate public enlightenment program geared towards the right choice of toothbrushes and pastes by individuals. 

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Correspondence: 

Dr. O.I. Opeodu

Dept. of Perio. & Community Dentistry,

College of Medicine,

University of Ibadan,

Nigeria

e-mail: opeodulanre1971@gmail.com