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Exploring the Synergistic Association Between Oral Health Status and Oral Health Literacy Among College Students: A Cross-Sectional Study.

Curēus 2023 July
INTRODUCTION: Oral health is often viewed as a significant component for an indication of good general health or for good well-being together with a decent quality of life. Health literacy is considered a crucial factor in improvising a good life or excellent health. Oral health literacy (OHL) is the ability necessary for people to identify the factors that lead to poor oral health, learn and put into practice the essentials of effective oral self-care behaviors, and communicate with oral healthcare professionals in order to schedule appointments, put their names on waiting lists for dental care, and locate the dentist's office.

AIM AND OBJECTIVES: To evaluate students' oral health, their OHL, to determine the relationship between their oral health status and OHL, and finally to suggest preventive measures for the benefit of public health.

MATERIALS AND METHOD: At Teerthanker Mahaveer University, a cross-sectional study involving 1500 participants, ages 18 to 25, was conducted on students studying nursing, physiotherapy, paramedicine, engineering, and law. Their informed consent was obtained. The Rapid Estimate of Adult Literacy in Dentistry (REALD-99) was used to gauge OHL levels, and the WHO's 1997 Oral Health Survey was used for their clinical evaluation.

RESULTS: The mean REALD score was significantly higher in nursing students (88.32±6.46), followed by physiotherapy college (82.46±9.11), paramedical college (70.54±10.95), law college (46.52±7.74), and least in engineering college (38.80±10.65). The difference in the REALD score based on college was statistically significant. Along with this, the REALD score showed a correlation with gender and location too. Except for fluorosis, all the clinical parameters of dental caries, gingival bleeding, and pockets, loss of attachment, dental fluorosis, and dental enamel were associated with OHL.

CONCLUSION: The results of the current study showed a relationship between educational attainment, clinical parameters examined, and OHL, leading to the conclusion that higher OHL is related to better oral health. So, we can conclude that maintaining good oral health requires OHL.

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