Oral Health Knowledge, Attitudes, and Practices Among Secondary School Students in Nigeria

Johnson John Omale, Walden University


Secondary school students in Nigeria face challenges regarding their oral health. Few researchers have investigated oral health knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors in Nigerian populations. The purpose of this study was to assess the level of oral health knowledge, behaviors, and practices among secondary school students in Enugu State, Nigeria, in relation to their oral health status. The theoretical framework of this study was based on the health belief model. A cross-sectional study was conducted to collect data from 12 secondary schools in Enugu State, using a close-ended questionnaire as well as oral examination (dental caries and periodontal diseases) of the students who attended junior secondary (JSS) I, II, and III classes. A total stratified sample of 671 students was included in the study. Bivariate nonparametric tests and logistic regression were used to analyze the data. According to the results of the study, the levels of dental caries and periodontal diseases were relatively low. However, only one fourth of the students had received professional fluoridation, and almost 50% of the participants had never visited a dentist. Students from a missionary school had lower levels of periodontal diseases than those from public schools, with an odds ratio of 0.612 (95% CI [0.402, 0.934]). Students from JSS III class tended to have a lower level of periodontal diseases than those of JSS I class (OR: 0.567, 95% CI [0.363, 0.886]). The social change implications of this study can be the development and incorporation of oral health promotion programs into the school curriculum. These programs may increase the adoption of preventive oral health strategies by students, such as regular dental attendance, to maintain their good oral health for a life time.