Oral health

Oral health knowledge, attitudes and behaviour of children and adolescents in China

International Dental Journal (2003) 53, 289-298
Ling Zhu (Beijing, China)
Poul Erik Petersen (Geneva, Switzerland)
Hong-Ying Wang, Jin-You Bian and Bo-Xue Zhang (Beijing, China)


A national representative study to describe oral health behaviour, illness behaviour, oral health knowledge and attitudes among 12-year-old and 18-year-old Chinese, to analyse the oral health behaviour profile of the two age groups in relation to province and urbanisation, and to assess the relative effect of socio-behavioural risk factors on dental caries experience.


The total number of 4,400 of each age group were selected and data were collected by clinical examinations (WHO criteria) and self-administered structured questionnaires.


44.4% of the respondents brushed their teeth at least twice a day but only 17% used fluoridated toothpaste. Subjects who saw a dentist during the previous 12 months or two years were 31.3% and 35.3% for 12-year-olds and 22.5% and 20.2% for 18-year-olds, respectively. Nearly one third (29%) of 12 year-olds and 40.5% of 18-year-olds would visit a dentist in case of signs of caries but only when in pain. Nearly half of the participants (47.2%) had never received any oral health care instruction. Significant variations in oral health practices were found according to province and regular dental care habits were more frequent in urban than in rural areas. The risk of dental caries was high in the case of frequent consumption of sweets and dental caries risk was low for participants with use of fluoridated toothpaste.


Systematic community-oriented oral health promotion programmes are needed to target lifestyles and the needs of children, particularly for those living in rural areas. A prevention-oriented oral health care policy would seem more advantageous than the present curative approach.


Oral health priority action area