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Open Access Research article

Preventive oral health practices of school pupils in Southern Nigeria

Morenike O Folayan1*, Mohammad R Khami2, Nneka Onyejaka3, Bamidele O Popoola4 and Yewande Isabella Adeyemo5

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Child Dental Health, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria

2 Research Center for Caries Prevention, Community Oral Health Department, School of Dentistry, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

3 Department of Child Dental Health, University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital, Enugu, Nigeria

4 Department of Child Oral Health, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria

5 Department of Child Oral Health, University College Hospital, Ibadan, Nigeria

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BMC Oral Health 2014, 14:83  doi:10.1186/1472-6831-14-83

Published: 7 July 2014



One of the goals of the World Health Organisation goal is to ensure increased uptake of preventive oral self-care by 2020. This would require the design public health programmes that will ensure children place premium on preventive oral health care uptake. One effort in that direction is the need for countries to define baseline measures on use of preventive oral self-care measures by their population as well as identify factors that impact on its use. This study aims to determine the prevalence and the impact of age and sex on the use of recommended oral self-care measures by pupils in Southern Nigeria.


Pupils age 8 to 16 years (N = 2,676) in two urban sites in Southern Nigeria completed a questionnaire about recommended oral self-care (use of fluoridated toothpaste, flossing, regularity of consuming sugary snacks between main meals), time of the last dental check-up and cigarette smoking habit. Chi square was used to test association between age (8-10years, 11–16 years), sex, and use of recommended oral self-care. Logistic regression analysis was used to determine the predictors of use of recommended oral self-care.


Only 7.8% of the study population practiced the recommended oral self-care. Older adolescents had an 8.0% increased odds (OR: 1.08; CI:0.81–1.43; p = 0.61) and males had a 20.0% decreased odds (OR: 0.80; CI:0.60-1.06; p = 0.12) of practicing recommended oral self-care though observed differences were not statistically significant. Very few respondents (12.7%) had visited the dental clinic for a check-up in the last one year. Majority of the respondents (92.2%) were non-smokers.


The use of a combination of oral self-care approaches was very low for this study population. Age and sex were predictive factors for the use of components of the oral self-care measures but not significant predictors of use of recommended oral self-care. Future studies would be required to understand ‘why’ and ‘how’ age and sex impacts on the use of caries preventive oral self-care measures to be able to design effective prevention educational programmes for the study population.