Anterior Dental Extractions among Dinka and Nuer Refugees in the United States: A Case Series


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Abstract

Few U.S. adults today experience life without permanent anterior teeth and know little about how an incomplete anterior dentition affects adult well-being. Sudanese refugees, who had resettled in the U.S. and who had six mandibular anterior teeth ritually extracted during youth, provided an opportunity to examine the significance of the effect of this partial edentulism. The authors interviewed five adult refugees whose anterior dentition was restored using dental implants. Factors considered before and after restoration included incisal ability, food item recognition, food consumption patterns and related social factors. Before restoration of the anterior dentition, participants could not incise typical foods eaten in the U.S. and expressed embarrassment about their dental status, which limited smiling, speaking and social interaction. This case series offers insight into the bio-cultural importance of the anterior dentition for all populations living with a visible gap in the lower jaw.

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