Knowledge, attitudes and practices concerning oral health care among undergraduate students in the Life Sciences Department at the Central University of Technology, Free State.
Mbele-Kokela, Feziwe Flora.
MetadataShow full item record
Background Problems with oral health can, in many ways, affect the quality of life. Bad oral health can prevent positive feelings from being expressed by students, influencing their social experiences and how they feel about themselves. Adults’ periodontal wellbeing influences their smiling habits and their quality of life linked to smiles. Bad periodontal health can also prevent positive feelings from being expressed by adults, which may, in turn, influence their self-concept and social interactions. Objectives The aim and objectives of this study were to determine the students’ knowledge, attitudes and practices regarding oral health care among undergraduate students in the Life Sciences Department at the Central University of Technology, Free State. Methods This descriptive study design used quantitative and qualitative methods conducted among undergraduate students in the Faculty of Health and Environmental Sciences, Department of Life Sciences at the Central University of Technology (CUT). Data were collected using an online survey questionnaire. Data were summarised and aggregated using numerical formats, and the responses related to the KAP of students were numerically coded, which helped to interpret the results. The minimum proportional response rate that was required was (n=156), where purposive sampling was used calculated with 95% confidence level. Results A total of (n=220) participants completed the questionnaire. Overall, 28.4% (n=62) were males and 70.2% (n=153) were females with 1.4% (n=3) classifying themselves as other (p<0.001). The questionnaire assessed oral health care knowledge, dental attitudes and oral health care practices (i.e. frequency of tooth brushing, use of dental floss and dental visits). Of the participants, it was noted that significantly more males smoked compared to the other two groupings. Out of (n=220) participants, 26.6% (n=58) smoked. Habits were also structured around the participant’s sugar intake. In this study, over 80%; (n=187) of the participants agreed that they loved sugar. More than 63% (n=138) participants confirmed brushing their teeth twice a day, and 31% (n=68) brushed once a day. The findings in this research further suggested that participants did not use oral hygiene strategies such as dental floss. Results suggested that more 56.4% (n=123) did not floss. The participants were asked ‘what is plaque?’ 41% (n=91) stated it was a layer of bacteria in the teeth while other participants 14%; (n=8) stated it was dirt on the teeth. A few of the participants, 37.9% (n=77), stated that they did not know what plaque was. Nearly 32% (n=72) of the participants did not understand how the state of one’s general health could affect their oral health. They indicated that they did not know the relationship between the two. In comparison, only 44.5% (n=98) had an idea. Conclusion It was found that oral health education was not covered in the disciplines researched in our study. We also found that variations in the source of dental information were correlated with oral health behaviour in university students. The study, therefore, concluded that oral health care knowledge, attitudes and practices are affected by education.