Oral self-care behaviours: comparing Greek and Japanese dental students

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AimThis study explored cross-cultural differences of self-reported oral health behaviours between Greek and Japanese dental students.ParticipantsThe sample population included 877 dental students, 539 students registered at the University of Athens Dental School, and 338 registered at the Hiroshima University Dental School.Material and methodsOral health behaviour was assessed using the Greek and Japanese versions of a 20-item questionnaire entitled Hiroshima University-Dental Behavioural Inventory (HU-DBI).ResultsThe mean questionnaire score of the Japanese students (7.40) was significantly greater than that of the Greek peers (6.86, P = 0.001), indicating better oral self-care behaviour amongst the Japanese students; however, the overall difference was mainly attributed to their additional sixth study year. Greek and Japanese students provided significantly different answers to 14 of 20 HU-DBI items. Greeks significantly more often were required by their dentist to evaluate their brushing technique (OR = 14.4, P < 0.01), checked their teeth in the mirror after brushing (OR = 8.1, P < 0.01), worried about bad breath (OR = 6.7, P < 0.01), and believed that gum disease is preventable by tooth brushing alone (OR = 2.1, P < 0.05), whereas their Japanese peers significantly more often felt comfortable to clean their teeth without the use of a toothpaste (OR = 0.3, P < 0.01), believed that they take much time to brush their teeth (OR = 0.3, P < 0.01), used a child-sized toothbrush (OR = 0.2, P < 0.01), and put off going to the dentist until having toothache (OR = 0.4, P < 0.01).ConclusionsConsiderable differences in dental health attitudes/behaviour exist amongst students in the two countries reflecting the different culture and the health education system of the students; moreover, it is possible to distinguish Greek dental students from Japanese peers with a probability of more than 89% by using the HU-DBI instrument.

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