Oral health

Self-assessed dental health, oral health practices, and general health behaviors in Chinese urban adolescents

Acta Odontologica Scandinavica, 2005; 63: 343–352
Han Jiang1, Poul Erik Petersen2 3, Bin Peng1, Baojun Tai1, Zhuan Bian1

1Department of Preventive Dentistry, School of Stomatology, Wuhan University, Wuhan, China

2Department for Community Dentistry and Graduate Studies, School of Dentistry, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark, and

3Oral Health Programme, Department of Chronic Disease and Health Promotion, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland

Abstract

The objectives of this study were: to describe perceived dental health status and oral health-related knowledge, attitudes, and behavior in Chinese urban adolescents; to assess the associations of oral health variables with socio-economic status and school performance; and to analyse the relative effect of socio-behavioral risk factors on perceived dental health, perceived need for dental care, and experience of dental symptoms. A cross-sectional survey of 2662 adolescents was conducted in eight capital cities in China; the response rate was 92%. The study population was chosen by multistage cluster sampling and covered three age groups: 11, 13, and 15 years. Data on dental and general health were collected by self-administered questionnaires. Self-assessment of dental health of Chinese adolescents was generally good, only 12% of the students answered that their teeth were “poor” or “very poor”, and 9% claimed having “poor” or “very poor” gums. Eleven percent of participants said that other students made fun of their teeth; 24% of the respondents were dissatisfied with the appearance of their teeth, and 41% claimed that they had experienced toothache or symptoms during the previous 12 months. Positive attitudes towards dental care were found in all age groups; 67% of adolescents brushed their teeth at least twice a day and 48% of the students used fluoridated toothpaste. Only 26% of the students visited a dentist during the previous 12 months. In all, 6% of the adolescents had tried cigarette smoking at least once, while 41% reported having tasted alcohol drinks. Multivariate regression analyses showed that perceived dental health status and needs were associated with gender, age, unhealthy lifestyles, poor school performance, and socio-economic status. The establishment of school-based health promotion programs in China is urgently needed, and promotion of oral health lifestyles should be integrated with other general health actions.

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For more information contact:

Dr. Poul Erik Petersen
Chief
Oral Health Programme, WHO
Telephone: +41 (22) 791 3475
Fax: +41 22 791 4866
E-mail: petersenpe@who.int