Awareness, Attitude and Oral Hygiene Practices of 5 and 12 year old Navy School Children in Southern Nigeria in the year 2000
Background: The WHO goals of oral health for all by the year 2000 was the target for many oral health researchers. The awareness, attitudes and oral hygiene practices of 1357 five (5) and 23 year old Naval School children in the southern part of Nigeria was assessed in the year 2000 as part of a general survey. Objective: - To assess the awareness, attitude, oral hygiene practices and determine oral hygiene status of the 5 and 12 year old Nigeria Naval School children. Method: A questionnaire asking about oral health care, their oral hygiene practices, reasons for tooth cleaning, causes of tooth decay, sources of their information and frequency of dental visit was administered to them followed by intra-oral examination to assess the level of oral cleanliness using the Plaque Index (which is one of the oral hygiene indices. Results: Over 50% knew that sweet foods (mainly dietary sugars-refined carbohydrates e.g. milk and milk containing product, non-milk sugars, soft drinks, fruit juices and confectionary) could cause tooth decay. Parents and guardians were sources of information to 63.7% of the children as regard oral health care, causes of tooth decay and other oral diseases. The toothbrush and paste is used for tooth cleaning by 81.7% but only 52.5% had good oral hygiene. A higher proportion of the 12 year-olds (55.1%) than the 5year-olds (48.8%) had good oral hygiene. This is statistically significant with p>0.05. This may be explained by the inability to effectively clean due to lack of manual dexterity at this age (5yr) to carry out oral hygiene. Children from Calabar (65.9%) performed the best in the overall assessment while Children from Lagos (44.0%) performed the poorest. Fewer children (3.1%) use the traditional oral hygiene methods compared to the previous years (80-90% in 1978, 10.8% in 1985, 21.6% in sub-urban area and 49.8% in rural areas in 1994, 37.8% in 1998 and 0.5% urban and 31.6% rural area 2000). Conclusion: Oral health awareness 66.3% and frequency of dental visit by children 33.3%, in our study and those from previous studies in the Southern part of Nigeria has not changed dramatically between 1985 and year 2000. This is based on findings from other researchers of 11.2% in Lagos in 1985, 20% in Lagos in 1987 and 3.2% in Lagos in 2000).
Keywords: Awareness, oral hygiene practices of 5, & 12 year old.
NQJHM Vol. 15 (4) 2005: pp. 172-178