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Oral Health Dent Manag. 2014 Mar;13(1):146-54.

Oral hygiene status, knowledge, perceptions and practices among school settings in rural South India.

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Assistant Professor, Center for Global Health and Development, College of Public Health, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, USA; Tel: 402-559-2327; e-mail:



To assess oral hygiene knowledge, perceptions and practices, and assess oral hygiene status among school settings in rural Chennai, India.


A pilot cross sectional study was done during August-September, 2013 in a rural school in Chennai, South India. A convenient sample of 100 secondary (6-8 standards) and higher secondary (9-10 standards) school students was taken. A modified version of previously validated questionnaires was used to gather information on socio-demographic characteristics; oral hygiene knowledge, perceptions and practices; oral health utilization and perception on impacts of oral health on daily life. Oral Hygiene Index- Simplified (OHI-S) was used to assess oral hygiene status.


Average age of participants was 13 years with 50% of participants being females. Nineteen per cent knew that teeth had to be cleaned with toothbrush and toothpaste. Seventeen per cent brushed twice a day. Females had more knowledge, perceptions, and practices than males (p<0.05). Gender (p<0.05), self-reported oral health perceptions (p<0.05), tooth brushing (p<0.001) and flossing (p<0.001) practices, use of fluoridated toothpaste (p=0.006), chewing sugar-based gum (p<0.05) and drinking milk with sugar (p<0.05) were significantly associated with oral hygiene knowledge. A relative majority (45%) of the participants had fair oral hygiene and this was significantly associated with school grade (p=0.001).


Oral hygiene knowledge, status, and eating patterns were inversely associated with the school grade. There is an urgent need to enhance oral health and hygiene practices at an early schooling. A multipronged, multilevel public health intervention integrating oral health into the school curriculum beginning early schooling is needed.


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