Healthcare in countries like Malawi is not something that is discussed on a regular occasion, however the results can be somewhat interesting. While some of the main cities in the country will have access to a dentist and some forms of oral healthcare products such as toothpaste and toothbrushes, some parts of the country still partake in some stranger oral health trends. While countries in the West such as the UK simply walk into clinics to have a check up or even a dental implant London procedure with ease, this is not the case in the majority of areas in Malawi. Here, we’re taking a closer look at the strange oral health trends that you can see in Malawi and the impact that the lack of oral healthcare is having on the country as a whole.

Brushing Teeth With An Arak Tree

While this is only likely to be the case in more rural areas of Malawi, some tribes and other cultures still tend to clean their teeth using the twigs of an Arak Tree. This particular tree contains some antiseptic properties, and is used by breaking a twig in half, which is then splayed and softened, and then used to wipe the surface of the teeth clean. Some other cultures will use a similar stick known as a miswak. Miswak naturally contains fluoride in high concentrations, which is known to be cavity-fighting. While some may see this culture as being particularly strange, dental experts around the world actually believe that these types of ‘sticks’ can provide some benefits for dental hygiene and some stores in the US have actually started to sell these!

Toothpaste Cultures

In some rural areas of Malawi, as well as other areas in Africa, India, Southeast Asia and beyond, there are a number of different types of toothpastes which can be used to clean the teeth with. According to the National Academy of Dentistry, some people will use materials such as brick, charcoal, Rangoli powder, salt, ash and more to help them clean their teeth, as opposed to the standard forms of toothpaste seen in the Western world. Nevertheless, using these types of materials for oral healthcare regimes can ultimately lead to abrasion and sensitivity of the teeth.

Programmes To Support Oral Healthcare In Rural Areas

As a result of rural areas in Malawi being unable to access the oral healthcare that they need to ensure they do not suffer from periodontal disease and tooth decay, there are a number of programmes such as Teethsavers International which have been set up to promote the importance of oral healthcare. After a visit to a series of orphanages in Lilongwe and Dowa, 45 young children suffered with cases of periodontal scaling and 32 others required fillings as a result of cavities in their teeth. With education and some treatment in various rural areas in Malawi, there are hopes that there will be an improvement in the standards of oral health trends in the country. While there 19 dentists in the country, with 1 reserved for government officials, and the remaining 18 being designated private practices, access to oral healthcare in the country can only improve moving forward.