Oral health is integral to general health and has often been referredas a mirror to general health.
1,2} A perfect general health isincomplete without perfect oral health. According to the World HealthOrganization, oral health is “a state of being free from mouth and facial pain,oral and throat cancer, oral infection and sores, periodontal (gum) disease,tooth decay, tooth loss, and other diseases and disorders that limit anindividual’s capacity in biting, chewing, smiling, speaking, and psychosocialwellbeing”.3 Dental caries and periodontal disease are most commonoral diseases and are prevalent universally.4 People arevulnerable to dental caries and periodontal disease all through their lifetime.Although, multifactorial etiology of dental caries and periodontaldisease is known they are primarily initiated by dental plaque.5 Itis calculated that about 1 cubic millimeter of dental plaque containsapproximately 200 million bacteria.
6 Dental plaque might containcariogenic bacteria which can ferment dietary carbohydrate to produce acidprecipitate leading to demineralization of tooth structure and cavityformation.7 The bacterial plaque on tooth surface adjacent togingiva or gingival crevice can irritate the soft tissue leading to gingivitis.8The inflammation sometimes penetrates into deeper tissues resulting indestruction of supporting connective tissues and alveolar bone calledperiodontitis.
Periodontitis may further progress in severity leading to pain,discomfort, difficulty in chewing, tooth mobility and eventually tooth loss.9 Dental plaque control is viewed as the most effective method ofpreventing periodontal diseases since it addresses the underlying etiology i.e.pathogenic microflora on the tooth surfaces. Evidences suggest that meticulousplaque control can prevent gingivitis and periodontitis in both children andadults.10,11 Plaque controlmethods can be classified as either mechanical or chemical methods which areused as self-care, or procedures professionally done by dentists or dentalhygienists.
Until now mechanical plaque control seems to the most dependableform of plaque control method. Chemical plaque control has been used only as anadjunct to mechanical means and not as a substitute.12 Toothbrushes with dentifrice are the most widely used method ofself-performed mechanical plaque control. Recently, powered toothbrushes aregaining popularity but there is no substantial evidence regarding superiorityof powered over mechanical tooth brushing. The effectiveness of toothbrush,however, depends on the acquired dexterity skills of individual, frequency andoptimum time.13-16 Plaque removal exclusively by tooth brushing isdifficult in critical inter-dental areas. Interproximal areas are found to bemore vulnerable for gingival inflammation than other tooth surfaces.17Several inter-dental cleaning aids have been developed and are available like dentalfloss, toothpick, uni-tufted and proxa brush.
These interdental cleaning aidsneeds some amount of training and are not recommended for all patients. Irrigationdevices are other oral hygiene aids developed to further improve the effect oftooth brushing on reducing interdental plaque.18 Chlorhexidine gluconateat 0.
2% has been considered as gold standard among chemical plaque controlagents.19 Some investigators have reportedpromising results following the use of Chlorhexidine with oral irrigationdevices.20It is assumed that oral hygiene aids other than toothbrush are notvery popular among general public. The appropriate use of interdental aids isdirectly related to prescription practices by the dentist. Limited prescriptionof other oral hygiene aids could be due to trivializing maintenance phase of periodontaltreatment or lack of adequate knowledge among dental practitioners. Suchprescription practices can be assumed to be generally carried by dentalstudents to their future practice outside school. There is lack of informationon usage and awareness of interdental oral hygiene aids among dental studentsin Saudi Arabia.
The objective of this study was to assess the knowledgeregarding use of oral hygiene aids among dental students in Saudi Arabia.