M.M. Salawu and R. Omitoye

  • Department of Public Health, Faculty of Basic Medical Sciences, Adeleke University, Ede, Osun State.


Background: Dental care is an important aspect of oral health which deals with the maintenance of healthy teeth and it is an important aspect of general oral health. Dental care practices include regular tooth brushing and flossing, healthy nutritional habits and regular visits to the dentists.

Objective: This was to determine the practice of dental hygiene among undergraduate students of Adeleke University.

Methodology: This was a cross-sectional survey conducted among Adeleke University undergraduate students between February and March, 2017. A stratified sampling technique was used to select study participants. A semi structured questionnaire was used for data collection and data were analyzed using SPSS version 21. Bivariate analysis was done with chi squared test. Level of significance was set at 5%.

Results: Mean age of respondents was 20.18 + 2.61 years. Half of the respondents (53.6%) brushed their teeth twice daily. Most (79.2%) of the respondents used toothpick to remove food debris from their teeth and only 9.1% used dental floss. Only 54.7% had ever visited the dentist in their lifetime. Respondents who were single had good dental practice compared to respondents that were married (p>0.05).

Conclusion: The practice of dental hygiene among the students is not adequate. There is a need to inform and educate the students on dental hygiene practices and the benefits.  

Keywords: Dental care practices, Undergraduate students, Adeleke University


Dr. M.M. Salawu

Department of Public Health,

Adeleke University, Ede, 

Osun State,




Oral health is a state of being free from mouth and facial pain, oral sores and infections, periodontal (gum) disease, tooth decay, tooth loss, and other diseases and disorders that limit an individual’s capacity in biting, chewing, smiling, speaking, and psychosocial wellbeing.1 Dental care is an important aspect of oral health which deals with the maintenance of healthy teeth and it is an important aspect of general oral health.  The mouth is the major gateway to the body hence, oral health is essential to the general health and quality of life.2

The practice of regular dental care, otherwise known as oral hygiene, helps in keeping the mouth and teeth clean in order to prevent dental diseases.3 Basic dental care involves brushing and flossing of the teeth regularly, seeing a dentist for regular checkups and cleanings. In a broader perspective, oral hygiene is the practice of keeping the mouth and teeth clean to prevent dental problems, most commonly, dental cavities, gingivitis, periodontal (gum) diseases and bad breath.1,4

Oral care practices such as brushing with fluoride toothpaste, dental flossing, regular dental checkup including cleaning the teeth professionally at least twice a year, are recommended measures for maintaining good oral health.5 Studies by Kempe et al. showed that poor oral hygiene, such as not brushing, not flossing, or not rinsing enough can lead to gum disease and tooth decay.6 The longer food particles are allowed to stay in the mouth, the greater the chance of decay.  So the mouth should be rinsed immediately after eating, especially sugary substances to prevent the formation of plaque. 

In a study conducted by Ogunrinde et al., it was documented that students and adolescents in Nigeria faced challenges regarding their oral health because of the daily high consumption of sugary foods and drinks, which predisposed them to dental caries and periodontal disease coupled with poor oral hygiene.8,9 According to Akpata, dental caries constitutes one of the major oral health problems with its prevalence as high as 20 to 45% among school children and adolescents in Nigeria.10 Periodontal diseases was found in 15–58% in those aged above 15 years, while a national survey involving 7630 persons from the 6 geo-political zones in Nigeria reported that only 26.4% had visited the dentist, 10.5%, used dental floss and 42.0% brushed twice daily.11

It is recommended that the teeth be brushed regularly with tooth brush using fluoride containing toothpaste at least twice a day in order to prevent dental caries and maintain good oral hygiene.12 However, there is limited data on dental care practices among undergraduate students especially of private institutions in Nigeria. This study was therefore designed to provide baseline data on the dental care practices among undergraduate students of Adeleke University, Osun State, Nigeria. 


Study area

This study was conducted in Adeleke University, Ede, Osun State. Adeleke University (AU) is situated in an ambient and serene environment at Ede, Osun State, Nigeria. The University has six faculties and twenty departments. These faculties are; Faculty of Business and Social Sciences (FBSS), Faculty of Arts (FOA), Faculty of Science (FOS), Faculty of Law (FOL), Faculty of Engineering (FOE) and Faculty of Basic Medical Sciences (FBMS). The departments are; Accounting, Business Administration, Economics, Library and Information Science, Mass Communication, Political Science and Public Administration, History and International Studies, English Language and Literary Studies, Religious Studies, Microbiology, Biochemistry, Computer Science, Computer Information Science (CIS), Law, Agricultural Engineering, Civil Engineering, Electronic and Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Public Health,  Nursing, Anatomy and physiology.

Study design

This was a cross sectional study.

Study participants

Three hundred and seventy-five undergraduate students participated in the study.

Sampling technique

Stratified random sampling was used to select study respondents. Each faculty represented a stratum and proportional allocation was employed to determine the copies of questionnaire to be distributed in each faculty. 

Methods of data collection and data collection tools

Quantitative method of data collection was employed and data was collected using a semi structured self-administered questionnaire.

Data analysis

Data was inspected, cleaned, checked for completeness and entered into the computer using Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) version 21. A total of 11 questions covering dental practices were asked and every correct answer was scored 1 and every wrong answer was scored 0. The mean score was computed and respondents scoring below the mean were classified as having poor dental care practice while respondents who had scores above the mean were classified as having good dental care practice.  The results were presented using proportions, tables and charts. Chi squared test was used to test for associations and level of significance was set at 5%.


Three hundred and seventy-five respondents participated in the study. Socio-demographic information of respondents is shown in Table 1. Respondents aged 20 to 24 years constituted 54.4% of respondents. Forty-one percent of the respondents were aged 15 to 19 years, 4.5% of the respondents were aged 25 to 29 years. The mean age of respondents was 20.18±2.61 years. About fifty one percent (50.7%) female students. Most of the respondents (70.4%) were Christians. Respondents who were of Yoruba ethnicity constituted 62.7% of the respondents. The majority of the respondents (96.3%) were never married.