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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

School-based strategies for oral health education of adolescents- a cluster randomized controlled trial

Abdul Haleem1*, Muhammad Irfanullah Siddiqui2 and Ayyaz Ali Khan1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Oral Health Sciences, Federal Postgraduate Medical Institute, Shaikh Zayed Medical Complex, Lahore, 54600, Pakistan

2 Department of Community Medicine and Pilgrims, Umm Al-Qura University, Makkah Al-Mukarrama, 7607, Saudi Arabia

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BMC Oral Health 2012, 12:54  doi:10.1186/1472-6831-12-54

Published: 18 December 2012



Oral health education (OHE) in schools has largely been imparted by dental professionals. Considering the substantial cost of this expert-led approach, the strategies relying on teachers, peer-leaders and learners themselves have also been utilized. However the evidence for comparative effectiveness of these strategies is lacking in the dental literature. The present study was conducted to compare the effectiveness of dentist-led, teacher-led, peer-led and self-learning strategies of oral health education.


A two-year cluster randomized controlled trial following a parallel design was conducted. It involved five groups of adolescents aged 10-11 years at the start of the study. The trial involved process as well as four outcome evaluations. The present paper discusses the findings of the study pertaining to the baseline and final outcome evaluation, both comprising of a self-administered questionnaire, a structured interview and clinical oral examination. The data were analyzed using Generalized Estimating Equations.


All the three educator-led strategies of OHE had statistically higher mean oral health knowledge (OHK), oral health behavior (OHB), oral hygiene status (OHS) and combined knowledge, behavior and oral hygiene status (KBS) scores than the self-learning and control groups (p<0.001). The mean OHK, OHS and KBS scores of the three educator-led strategies did not differ significantly. The peer-led strategy was, however, found to have a significantly better OHB score than the respective score of the teacher-led strategy (p<0.05). The self-learning group had significantly higher OHB score than the control group (p<0.05) but the OHK, OHS and KBS scores of the two groups were not significantly different.


The dentist-led, teacher-led and peer-led strategies of oral health education are equally effective in improving the oral health knowledge and oral hygiene status of adolescents. The peer-led strategy, however, is almost as effective as the dentist-led strategy and comparatively more effective than the teacher-led and self-learning strategies in improving their oral health behavior.

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Oral health education; Dental health education; Oral health promotion; Prevention; Oral diseases; Peer-led; Teacher-led; Dentist-led