Oral health

Oral health knowledge, attitudes and behaviour of adults in China

International Dental Journal (2005) 55, 231–241
Ling Zhu (Beijing, China)
Poul Erik Petersen (Geneva, Switzerland)
Hong-Ying Wang, Jin-You Bian and Bo-Xue Zhang (Beijing, China)

Objectives

To describe oral health behaviour, illness behaviour, oral health knowledge and attitudes among 35–44 and 65–74-year-old Chinese; to analyse the oral health behaviour profile of the two age groups in relation to province and urbanisation, and to assess the relative effect of socio-behavioural risk factors on dental caries experience.

Methods

A total number of 4,398 35–44-year-olds and 4,399 65–74-year-olds were selected by multistage stratified cluster random sampling which involved 11 provinces in China. Data were collected by self-administered structured questionnaires and clinical examinations (WHO criteria).

Results

32% of the 35–44-year-olds and 23% of the 65–74-year-olds brushed at least twice a day but only 5% used fluoridated toothpaste; 30% and 17% respectively performed ‘Love-Teeth-Day’ recommended methods of tooth brushing. A dental visit within the previous 12 months was reported by 25% of all participants and 6% had a dental check-up during the past two years. Nearly 15% of the subjects would visit a dentist if they experienced bleeding from gums; about 60% of the subjects paid no attention to signs of caries if there was no pain. Two thirds of the urban residents and one fifth of the rural participants had economic support for their dental treatment from a third party, either totally or partially. Significant variations in oral health practices were found according to urbanisation and province. At age 35–44 years 43% of participants had daily consumption of sweets against 28% at age 65–74 years. Dental caries experience was affected by urbanisation, gender, frequency, time spent on and method of tooth brushing. Knowledge of causes and prevention of dental diseases was low with somewhat negative attitudes to prevention observed.

Conclusion

Systematic community-based oral health promotion should be strengthened and preventive-oriented oral health care systems are needed, including promotion of further self-care practices and the use of fluoridated toothpaste.

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