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Trends in the development of oral hygiene habits in finnish adolescents 1977 1981

, : Trends in the development of oral hygiene habits in finnish adolescents 1977 1981. Community Dentistry & Oral Epidemiology 12(2): 72-77

The aim of this study (part of the Juvenile Health Habit Study) was to analyze changes in how frequently certain oral hygiene measures are used, namely toothbrushing and dental flossing in 1977-1981. A representative sample of Finnish adolescents aged 12, 14, 16 and 18 yr old, were sent a postal questionnaire in Feb. 1977 (n = 3209), another in Feb. 1979 (n = 4953) and a 3rd one in Feb. 1981 (n = 4705). The response rates for the 3 questionnaires were 88, 86 and 88%, respectively. During the years studied no systematic changes occurred in the toothbrushing frequency. When the background factors that are highly correlated with toothbrushing frequency (school career or school success of adolescents, householder's occupation and education, place of residence) were studied, no consistent changes were observed from 1977-1981. The percentage of adolescents who used dental floss daily did not change. However, the proportion of sporadic users of dental floss increased from 13% in 1979 to 24% in 1981. Dental health education had little effect on toothbrushing habits and its background variables, although the amount of time spent in dental health education during the same period had increased significantly. Programs of dental health education should be evaluated so that the situation can be improved in the future.

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