Date of Conferral
Doctor of Public Health (DrPH)
The oral health and hygiene of incarcerated populations, both in the United States and globally, is known to be poorer than that of the general population. This study examined the prevalence of dental caries and periodontal disease and the relationships between oral health status and the oral health knowledge, attitudes, and practices of jail inmates housed in a large metropolitan jail located in the midwestern United States. This cross-sectional study collected data from 100 inmates using a 21-item closed-ended questionnaire in addition to oral examinations conducted by the jail's dentist to determine the extent of dental caries and periodontal disease (DMFT and CPI scores) in this population. Neither oral health and hygiene studies nor studies of oral health knowledge, attitudes, and practices have been examined in U.S. jails. The conceptual frameworks of this study were the health belief model and social cognitive theory. The data were analyzed with the use of bivariate correlation tests, as well as binary logistic analyses. The results of this study revealed that the total number of correct answers on the oral health attitudes (OHA) questionnaire appeared to be the strongest predictor of high DMFT, with significance of 0.05 and an odds ratio of 1.522 (95% CI [1.000, 2.334]). In the analysis that included the total number of correct answers for the OHA questionnaire, years incarcerated was the strongest predictor of high CPI (p = 0.027), with an odds ratio of 0.340 (95% CI [0.131, 0.883]). This study advances social change by aiding in understanding the oral health status and oral health knowledge, attitudes, and practices of inmates â?? an underserved population. Results from this study can be used to assist jail administrators in understanding the types of dental care that is needed in correctional facilities.