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KNOWLEDGE, ATTITUDE AND PERCEPTION TOWARDS DIET AND NUTRITION AS AMEANS OF PREVENTING ORAL DISEASES AMONG PATIENTS VISITING UNIVERSITY OF NAIROBI DENTAL HOSPITAL, ORAL DIAGNISIS CLINIC.

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SUMMARY

Despite the numerous advancements in modem dentistry, dental diseases continue to overwhelm the current society. Surprisingly a number of these diseases could be controlled if not prevented by proper diet and nutrition. Unlike the other aspects of preventive dentistry, proper diet and nutrition almost fully relies on the patient's compliance. The latter greatly is influenced by the patient's knowledge, attitude, and perception. For one to practice proper dietary habits he or she needs to be sufficiently equipped with information and despite that have a positive attitude.

The objective of this study was to determine the knowledge, attitude and perception towards diet and nutrition as a means of preventing oral diseases, among patients visiting the university of Nairobi dental hospital, oral diagnosis clinic. The population of study comprised of 480 patients aged 18 and above. The sample studied comprised of 197 patients who gave consent Data was collected from the study population using an interviewer-administered questionnaire. This was from July to October 2007.

A descriptive cross-sectional study was conducted in the university of Nairobi dental hospital, oral diagnosis clinic. Sample size was selected using systematic random sampling method; data analyzed and presented using relevant methods.

The results showed that in general about 78% of the respondents had adequate knowledge whereas 19.9%)had insufficient knowledge about diet and nutrition in relation to oral health. A small percentage 1.6% had no knowledge about the above. Also a greater percentage 94.4% showed a positive attitude most likely owing to the knowledge they had. A small percentage 3.5% exhibited a negative attitude and this could be attributed to insufficient knowledge and lack of motivation.

The results obtained from the study may be used by policy makers to formulate methods of public awareness on diet and nutrition as beacons of prevention of various oral diseases. The former has also been submitted as a partial fulfillment of Bachelor of Dental Surgery degree course in the University of Nairobi.

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Proteins are nutrients of first importance because they are the indispensable constituents of the cytoplasm and nuclei of all ceil types. Not only do they build up body tissues but are also the essential components of enzymes and hormones. They can serve as energy sources when carbohydrate and fat intake is inadequate.

Protein nutrition is associated with oral health and disease. Majority of organic portion of enamel and dentin is protein in nature. Protein deficiency has been shown to affect tooth formation eruption and alignment In humans there is no direct evidence that shows a correlation between dental caries experience and dietary supplements of proteins. However in experimental animals, casein, a phosphoprotein has been shown to have some anticariogenic effect. Proteins are important in maintaining the health of the Periodontium In protein deficiency there is atrophic and degenerative changes in connective tissue of the gingival and periodontal ligament. Bone and cementum also show features of break down. Protein malnutrition is linked to infections of various types5,6

Equally the energy releasing B complex Vitamins, major haematinic nutrients, ascorbic add Vitamins A, K, D and E, calcium phosphorous and fluorides among other minerals are important in health and disease systemically and in the oral cavity4.7

Various studies have been done to ascertain the knowledge attitude and perception of various groups of patients and clinically, healthy individuals towards diet and nutrition. Examples include studies done by Elizabeth 2003 dentists' survey and the view course listing survey. The main aim of the study was to determine the knowledge, attitude and perception of the patients towards diet and nutrition as an important entity of preventive dentistry.

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