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Oral health behavior of drug addicts in withdrawal treatment

Hajar Shekarchizadeh12, Mohammad R Khami12*, Simin Z Mohebbi12 and Jorma I Virtanen34

Author Affiliations

1 Community Oral Health Department, School of Dentistry, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, North Kargar Street, Tehran 1439955991, Iran

2 Department of Oral Public Health, Institute of Dentistry, University of Helsinki, P.O.Box 41, Helsinki FI-00014, Finland

3 Department of Community Dentistry, University of Oulu, P.O.Box 5281, Oulu, FI-90014, Finland

4 Department of Public Health, University of Helsinki, P.O.Box 41, Helsinki, FI-00014, Finland

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BMC Oral Health 2013, 13:11  doi:10.1186/1472-6831-13-11

Published: 31 January 2013



Oral health behavior (OHB), one major factor contributing to proper oral health status, has been addressed insufficiently in addiction literature. The aim of our study was to investigate OHB and its determinants among drug addicts in withdrawal treatment.


Through a stratified cluster sampling method, we collected the data from 685 patients in withdrawal treatment in Tehran using self-administered questionnaires on OHB components and conducting interviews about patients’ characteristics and addiction history. The T-test, ANOVA, and a linear regression model served for statistical analysis.


Of the patients, 48% reported brushing their teeth less than once a day, more than 90% used fluoride toothpaste almost or always, and 81% flossed their teeth rarely or never. Eating sugary products twice a day or more was reported by 57% of the patients and 85% of them were current smokers. Poor OHB was associated with male gender, lower education, being addicted mainly to crystalline heroin, starting drug abuse at a younger age, and having a longer history of addiction (p < .05).


Poor OHB was found among the participants in drug withdrawal treatment. Preventive strategies on oral health should be planned and be integrated into other health promotion programs for addicts along with their withdrawal treatment taking into account special groups at higher risk.

Addiction; Substance abuse; Withdrawal treatment; Methadone maintenance; Oral health behavior