Oral and peri-oral signs and symptoms of herbal dentifrices in patients in two oral medicine clinics in Lagos—A preliminary study


Background: Herbal dentifrices appear to have become an attractive alternative for some consumers and its use has gained appreciable acceptance in Nigeria. This could be partly due to the perception that herbal toothpastes like other herbal products are “natural”, devoid of chemicals and therefore superior to regular toothpastes. Aggressive advertisement of the products may also contribute to this new trend. Mucosal symptoms such as glossitis and intolerance to spicy foods seen in patients attending the oral diagnosis clinic are usually associated with anaemia and nutritional deficiency states. The disturbing trend of an increasing number of patients presenting with such oral mucosal symptoms associated with the use of herbal dentifrices prompted this study. This trend was observed in two isolated oral medicine clinics. Objective: To sensitize oral health, allied professionals and consumers on the possible adverse effects of regular use of some herbal dentifrices sold in Nigeria. Materials and Methods: Routine patients of two oral medicine clinics in Lagos, namely the Randle General Hospital and the Lagos University Teaching Hospital who complained of some adverse mucosal signs and symptoms following the regular use of two identified herbal toothpastes made up the study population. The study was conducted between April 2010-April 2011. A detailed history and examination was carried out on these patients and clinical photographs of oral signs observed was taken in consenting patients. Data analysis was done using the Epi-info 6 software. P values ≤ 0.05 was considered statistically significant and data was presented in table format. Results: A total of 45 patients, 9 (20%) males and 36 (80%) fe-males were seen. The age range of patients was 14 - 78 years; mean age 45.5 ± 14.9 years. The duration of use of herbal dentifrices ranged from 2 weeks - 84 months (mean 24 ± 11.5 months). Oral signs and symptoms seen include, burning mouth and peppery sensation, mucosal erythema, lichenoid reaction, xerostomia, loss of taste sensation, angio-oedema and oral and peri-oral pigmentation. In many patients, resolution of symptoms was progressive within 2 weeks of withdrawal of the herbal toothpaste and its replacement with a conventional fluoride toothpaste. Most of the patients however required further treatment. A statistically significant association was found between the use of the identified herbal dentifrices and the following mucosal signs and symptoms namely, burning mouth and peppery sensation ,loss of taste sensation, soreness, erythema and lichenoid straie (p value ≤ 0.05). There was no statistically significant association between the use of herbal toothpaste and mucosal signs and symptoms of xerostomia, angular cheilitis, mucosal itching, angio-oedema and numbness (p value > 0.0.5) Conclusion: The regular use of the herbal dentifrices identified in this study can result in oral signs and symptoms affecting taste , nutrition, aesthetics and general oral physiology in some consumers. These findings suggest that further long term clinical trials need to be conducted on the herbal dentifrices to identify the noxious agents causing these symptoms. The formulation and use of these dentifrices need to be standardized and regulated. There is also a need to formulate a treatment protocol for these patients.

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Wright, A. , Agbelusi, G. , Dayo, A. and Olunuga, O. (2012) Oral and peri-oral signs and symptoms of herbal dentifrices in patients in two oral medicine clinics in Lagos—A preliminary study. Open Journal of Stomatology, 2, 27-32. doi: 10.4236/ojst.2012.21005.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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