Oral health knowledge, attitudes, and practices of undergraduate students at a South African University of Technology


  • Feziwe Flora Mbele-Kokela University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa.
  • Rajeshree Moodley Discipline of Dentistry, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa.




correlation, qualitative data, questionnaire eliciting quantitative


Awareness of oral health is essential for developing healthy habits, and a correlation between improved knowledge
and better oral health has been shown to exist. Health-related behaviours are more likely to be followed if a person
has greater control over their health with a better understanding of diseases and their aetiology. To determine the knowledge, attitudes, and practices regarding oral health care among undergraduate students in the Life Sciences Department at a University of Technology, Free State. This descriptive study gives insights into the oral hygiene knowledge, attitudes, and practices of undergraduate students in the Faculty of Health and Environmental Sciences, Department of Life Sciences at a University of Technology. Data were collected using an online questionnaire eliciting quantitative and qualitative data. The results revealed that most of the participants, 80% (n=178) understood that oral health is essential to their overall wellbeing. Overall, in this research, the findings of oral health education were found not to be covered. However, we found that variations in the source of dental
information were correlated with university students’ oral health behaviour. The study, therefore, concludes that oral health care knowledge, attitudes and practices are affected by education and show that advocacy for the promotion of oral health is significant for the students.


Download data is not yet available.


Metrics Loading ...


Bissett S, Preshaw P. Guide to providing mouth care for older people. Nurs Older People. Dec 2011; 23(10): 14-21. doi:

7748/ nop2011 . PMID: 22256725.

Glick M, Williams DM, Kleinman DV, Vujicic M, Watt RG, Weyant RJ. A new definition for oral health developed by the FDI World Dental Federation opens the door to a universal definition of oral health. J Am Dent Assoc. Dec 2016; 147(12): 915-7. doi: 10.1016/j.a daj.2016.10.001. PMID: 27886668.

Blaggana A, Grover V, Anjali, Kapoor A, Blaggana V, Tanwar R, Kaur H, Haneet RK. Oral Health Knowledge, Attitudes and

Practice Behaviour among Secondary School Children in Chandigarh. J Clin Diagn Res. Oct 2016; 10(10): ZC01-ZC06.

doi: 10.7860/JCDR/2016/23640.8633. Epub 2016 Oct 1. PMID: 27891447; PMCID: PMC5121785.

Azodo CC, Ehizele AO, Umoh A, Ojehanon PI, Akhionbare O, Okechukwu R, Igbinosa L. Perceived oral health status and

treatment needs of dental auxiliaries. Libyan J Med. 2010 Mar 15;5. doi: 10.3402/ljm.v5i0.4859. PMID: 21483589; PMCID: PMC3071173.

Ghaffari M, Rakhshanderou S, Ramezankhani A, Noroozi M, Armoon B. Oral Health Education and Promotion Programmes:

Meta-Analysis of 17-Year Intervention. Int J Dent Hyg. 2018 Feb;16(1):59-67. doi: 10.1111/idh.12304. Epub 2017 Aug 24. PMID: 28836347.

Formicola AJ. Considering Students’ Cost of a Dental Education: Return on Investment and Debt to Income Ratio. J Dent Educ. Aug 2017; 81(8): eS28-eS32. doi: 10.21815/JDE.017.004. PMID: 28765452.

Formicola AJ, Bailit HL. Community-based dental education: history, current status, and future. J Dent Educ. Jan 2012;

(1): 98-106. PMID: 22262554.

Afshin A, Sur PJ, Fay KA, Cornaby L, Ferrara G, Salama JS, Mullany EC, Abate KH, Abbafati C, Abebe Z, Afarideh M. Health effects of dietary risks in 195 countries, 1990-2017: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2017. Lancet. 11 May 2019; 393(10184): 1958-72. doi: 10.10 16/S0140-6736(19)30041-8. Epub 2019 Apr 4. PMID: 30954 305; PMCID: PMC6899507.

Ramphoma KJ. Oral Health in South Africa: Exploring the role of dental public health specialists. SADJ. 2016; 71(9): 402-3.

Available from http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_ arttext&pid=S0011-85162016000900005 (Accessed on 02 Feb.


Murray CJ, Abbafati C, Abbas KM, Abbasi M, AbbasiKangevari M, Abd-Allah F, Abdollahi M, Abedi P, Abedi A, Abolhassani H, Aboyans V. Five insights from the global burden of disease study 2019. Lancet (London, England). 2020 Oct; 396(10258): 1135-59. doi: 10.1016/s0140-6736(20)31404-5.

Patel RR, Richards PS, Inglehart MR. Periodontal health, quality of life, and smiling patterns - an exploration. J Periodontol.

Feb 2008; 79(2): 224-31. doi: 10.1902/jop.2008.070344. PMID: 18251637.

Sheiham A. Oral health, general health and quality of life. Bull World Health Organ. Sep 2005; 83(9): 644. Epub 2005 Sep 30.

PMID: 16211151; PMCID: PMC2626333.

Thorpe S. Oral health issues in the African region: Current situation and future perspectives. Journal of Dental Education.

; 70(11): 8-15. https://doi.org/10.1002/j.0022-0337.2006.70.11_suppl.tb04209.x.

Singh S. Dental caries rates in South Africa: implications for oral health planning. South Afr J Epidemiol Infec. 2011; 26(4):

-261. https://doi.org/ 10.1080/10158782.2011.11441463.

Modikoe MM, Reid M, Nel R. Oral health-related knowledge, attitudes and practices of adult patients in Mangaung Metropolitan Municipality, South Africa. SADJ. 2019; 74( 4 ): 180-6. https://dx.doi.org/10.17159/2519-0105/2019/v74no4a3.

Singh S, Pottapinjara S. Dental undergraduate students’ knowledge, attitudes and practices in oral health self-care: A survey from a South African university. AJHPE. 2017; 9(2): 83-7. https:/doi.org/10.7196/AJHPE.2017.v9i2.800.

Cochran, WG. Sampling techniques. 2007. John Wiley & Sons.ISBN 471-16240-X. Available from https://hwbdocuments.

env.nm.gov/Los%20Alamos%20National%20Labs/General/14447.pdf (Accessed on 02 February 2021).

Braun V, Clarke V. Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative research in psychology. 2006; 3(2): 77-101. http:/doi.org/10.1191/1478088706qp063oa.

Park SE, Timothé P, Nalliah R, Karimbux NY, Howell TH. A case completion curriculum for clinical dental education: replacing numerical requirements with patient-based comprehensive care. J Dent Educ. Nov 2011; 75(11): 1411-6. PMID: 22058389.

Thema LK, Singh S. Integrated primary oral health services in South Africa: the role of the PHC nurse in providing oral

health examination and education: open forum. Afr J Prim Health Care Fam Med. 2013; 5(1): 1-4. https://doi.org/10.4102/


Peltzer K, Pengpid S. Oral health behaviour and social and health factors in university students from 26 low, middle and

high income countries. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 26 Nov 2014; 11(12): 12247-60. doi: 10.3390/ijerph111212247. PMID: 25431876; PMCID: PMC4276612.

Sarpkaya R, Çavus B, Yilmaz K. The Involvement of Adults in Formal Education and Lifelong Learning Activities According

to OECD Data: An Evaluation in the Light of OECD Education at a Glance 2017. International Journal of PsychoEducational Sciences. 2018; 7(2): 16-29. Available from https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1252963.pdf (Accessed on 02 February 2021).

Al-Hussaini R, Al-Kandari M, Hamadi T, Al-Mutawa A, Honkala S, Memon A. Dental health knowledge, attitudes and behaviour among students at the Kuwait University Health Sciences Centre. Med Princ Pract. Oct-Dec 2003; 12(4): 260-5. doi: 10.1159/000072295. PMID: 12966201.

Graça SR, Albuquerque TS, Luis HS, Assunção VA, MalmqvistS, Cuculescu M, Slusanschi O, Johannsen G, Galuscan A, Podariu AC, Johannsen A. Oral Health Knowledge, Perceptions, and Habits of Adolescents from Portugal, Romania, and Sweden: A Comparative Study. J Int Soc Prev Community Dent. 30 Sep 2019; 9(5): 470-80. doi: 10.4103/jispcd.JISPCD_194_19. PMID: 31620380; PMCID: PMC6792312.

Smadi L, Nassar OS. Oral & dental health knowledge and attitude among nursing students. WJER. 2016; 3(2): 238-50. https://doi.org/10.22158/wjer.v3n2p238.

Taniguchi-Tabata A, Ekuni D, Mizutani S, Yamane-Takeuchi M, Kataoka K, Azuma T, Tomofuji T, Iwasaki Y, Morita M. Associations between dental knowledge, source of dental xknowledge and oral health behavior in Japanese university stu-dents: A cross-sectional study. PLoS One. 8 Jun 2017; 2(6): e0179298. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0179298. PMID: 28594914; PMCID: PMC5464648.

Silva JVD, Oliveira AGRDC. Individual and contextual factors associated to the self-perception of oral health in Brazilian adults. Rev Saude Publica. 2018 Apr 9;52:29. doi: 10.11606/S1518-8787.2018052000361. PMID: 29641654; PMCID: PMC5893273.




How to Cite

Mbele-Kokela, . F. F. ., & Moodley, R. (2021). Oral health knowledge, attitudes, and practices of undergraduate students at a South African University of Technology. South African Dental Journal, 76(06), 322–330. https://doi.org/10.17159/2519-0105/2021/v76no6a3