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Research Article Open Access
Background: While the burden of oral diseases is more on socio-economically disadvantaged groups in India, a paucity of data exists on modifiable risk factors influencing oral health among rural populations in India. This study 1) assessed oral knowledge levels, attitudes, barriers toward seeking professional dental care and utilization of dental care through empirical and anecdotal data; and 2) determined overall caries experience. Methodology: The cross-sectional study took place in Ramgarh in District Chhindwara, Madhya Pradesh. Participant answered survey questions in a face-to-face interview and underwent an intra-oral examination. Results: Participants with ≥ 8 years of formal education had significantly higher oral health knowledge (M=4.0 SD=2.5) than participants having <8 years or no education (F=17.24; p<0.001). Participants between 18-34 years of age had significantly higher knowledge (M=3.5, SD=2.4) than 35-44 year olds and ≥ 45 years of age (F=3.92; p=0.01). Only 17% of the sample received care from a dentist, and 31% believed going to the dentist was necessary even in the absence of dental pain. The barriers preventing participants from seeking professional care were: fear of loss of vision following tooth extraction, absence of pain, and use of home remedies. Overall caries experience increased significantly by increasing age (F=16.8; p<0.001), and decreased with higher educational levels (F=2.72; p=0.046). Conclusions: Rural people have low oral health knowledge and their behaviors of seeking dental care are impaired by prevailing myths. Both younger adults and older adults should be made aware of dental disease prevention and maintaining optimal oral hygiene behaviors throughout their lives. Offering essential dental services within the existing health infrastructure, which involve auxiliary dental professionals and rural health workers, may meet some of the unmet dental needs.
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Author(s): Payal Kahar, Idethia Shevon Harvey, Christine A Tisone, Deepesh Khanna
Oral health knowledge, Self-care, Barriers, Dental visits, Caries experience, Attitude, Professional dental care, Oral Health