This paper is based on previous research carried out on the topic of oral hygiene. In this literature review, various studies have been considered, some from outside of India as well as some from within India, which is the origin of our research. This was done to obtain a global view of the topic and also to be able to compare how Indian oral hygiene and awareness compares with the same for the rest of the world.
In a study conducted in 2011 that pertained to the oral health practices was conducted in the rural areas of the Kanchipuram District in Tamil Nadu, India. The participants were children between the ages of 5 and 10. The mean age of the children was 8.5 years and there were a total of 81 participants. The aim of this survey was ‘to evaluate the awareness and knowledge among the rural children on the dental health problems, their oral hygiene practices and the pattern of practices of dental treatment.’ A number of results pertained to the oral health practices of the participants. A number of results pertained to the oral health practices of the participants were found in the study by authors VC Punita, P Sivaprakasam, in the rural children of Kanchipuram in the year 2011.14
Out of the 81 children participating, only 51 children used toothbrushes while the rest used their fingers as a tool to clean their teeth. That accounts to only 62.96% brushing their teeth with brushes. This is attributed to the children coming from a ‘very low socioeconomic background’. It was reported that 92.59% of the participants brushed their teeth once a day and 7.40% brushed twice a day. Moreover, only 45 out of the 81 children used toothpaste (55.55%) while the rest used twigs of the Azadirachta indica plant, traditionally known as datum, in combination with chalk powder, charcoal or sand. From the children who used brushes, 50.98% of them changed their brush when it got worn out, 27.44% of the participants changed their brush every 3 to 6 months. While the rest did not know how often they changed their brush.
The author concludes that ‘by giving adequate information, motivation and practice of the measure to the subject’ this situation can be improved.
In recent study done in 2012 authors Mehta A and Kaur G, it was found that 71.4% of the participants used a toothbrush with toothpaste, which is significantly higher than the 62.69% used by participants in the previously described study.18 Moreover, in this study, only 1.4% of participants used the Azadirachta indica twigs to clean their teeth, which is a significantly better result than the previous study. In this study, 25% of participants brushed their teeth more than once a day, which is a major improvement over the 7.40%, reported in the previous experiment.
In a study conducted by Amin and Al-Asad on the ‘Oral hygiene practices, dental knowledge, dietary habits and their relation to caries among male primary school children in Al-Hassa, Saudi Arabia’ (2008). This study showed similar results in Saudi Arabia to those in the first study discussed. A total of 24.5% of the students brushed their teeth more than twice a day. However, 44.6% of the students used Malwak which is similar to the Azadirachta indica used in the first and second studies.
Another important study was conducted in Bangalore, which focused on various oral practices and oral health in missionary schools in Bangalore. They studied the oral health of school children of the age 11- to 12-year-old.19 From all the participants studied, 5.4% of them smoked cigarettes at least once a week while 3.9% of the chewed tobacco at least once a week. These results are eye opening as the children who took part in the experiment were 11 to 12 years old and tobacco use at such a young age is extremely harmful.
Another important segment of our study is tobacco use. Tobacco is classified in two forms, one which is smoked and the other which is used in forms other than being smoked. Smoked tobacco includes cigars, cigarettes, pipes, hookahs, bidis and kreteks. Smokeless forms of tobacco include betel nut, pan, pan masala and snus.
The other articles lacked knowledge about tobacco use in the participants.
Another aspect of our study is the diet of our participants. A study was conducted to compare oral habits and oral health knowledge in American school students living in Amritsar and Indian school children living in the same city.20
It was concluded that the diets of the school students compared was found to be ‘comparable.’ (Grewal and Kaur (2007). This was attributed to the urbanization of cities in India. However, the hygiene practices in the group of Indian participants was different from that of the American participants. The author suggests the hygiene practices in the group of Indian participants have not changed over time.
The last aspect of our study is oral health knowledge. In the study conducted in the Panchkula district, it was found that 83.2% of participants knew the importance of brushing regularly.18 Moreover, 69.5% of participants stated that the importance of visiting a dentist regularly, which is to maintain healthy teeth. Around 17.6% of the participants knew the benefit of using toothpaste which contained fluoride. Lastly, 41.8% of the participants knew that the consumption of sugary foods can result in dental caries.