Oral health knowledge and behaviour in the field of oral health among freshman medical students

Jacek Kotuła


Introduction: Students of medical faculties are the backbone of a well-educated medical team. First-year medicine students in the field of oral health have knowledge and pro-health behaviors acquired before the beginning of academic education. The level however does not always match scientific views. It is important that during studies they should systematically deepen and model. It is expected that appropriate, reliable and professional knowledge about oral health obtained during the academic training has modulated their own pro-health behaviors concerning the oral health of future doctors and their patients. The aim of the study was to assess the level of knowledge and pro-health behaviors concerning the oral cavity of first-year students of medicine.
Materials and methods: The study covered 60 first-year medical students of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at the University of Zielona Góra. Students anonymously filled out a questionnaire containing questions about health knowledge and behaviors as well as a self-assessment of oral health.
Results: Only 13.3% of the medical students knew that tooth decay is an infectious disease. At the same time, 95% indicated acid bacteria and carbohydrates as a cause of caries. When assessing the level of their own health-oriented knowledge in the field of dentistry, the vast majority considered it sufficient (over 61%) or too low (14%). It is worrying to submit responsibility for the oral health of the unit to the dentist – 96.7% of respondents considered it. As many as 33.3% of respondents believed that the responsibility for removing plaque is borne by the dentist. The vast majority determined their oral hygiene as good, and only 3.4% as bad. Among students 65% recognized the need to change the toothbrush every month, and 90% when needed. Most students, 93.3%, knew that toothpaste with fluoride prevents the development of caries and that one of the hygienic procedures is cleansing the tongue. In the assessment of oral health, the vast majority indicated the range of 1–3 teeth treated for dental caries. At the same time, almost 70% admitted that they never had an endodontically treated tooth, with almost 80% stating that they had not had any tooth removed. Almost 18% of respondents did not report any signs of periodontal inflammation. The largest number of respondents after the analysis of their teeth would change the color – 64%, slightly less the teeth position 21.5%, and for a change in the shape of the teeth indicated 6.1%. The most common source of pro-health knowledge was a dentist for the students and then mass media.
Conclusions: The level of knowledge regarding oral health and healthy behaviors of first-year medical students requires raising thorough academic training. Attention should be paid to building systematic and cause–and–effect knowledge based on tooth and periodontal anatomy, bacterial etiology of caries, formation of odontogenic inflammatory foci and their impact on the development of focal diseases. Research has shown no causal relationship between the level of knowledge and pro-health behavior. The undergraduate education of future doctors should include shaping the correct dietetic and hygienic regimes. Developed attitudes based on professional knowledge will allow future physicians to promote proper health behaviors in the oral cavity of their friends and patients.


oral health knowledge and behaviours; mouth; medical students

Full Text:


DOI: https://doi.org/10.21164/pomjlifesci.614

Copyright (c) 2019 Jacek Kotuła

License URL: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/pl/