Physiotherapy students’ oral health related knowledge, attitudes and practices at an identified institution of higher learning in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa




Health, self-care, dental care, knowledge, interprofessional education


Oral self-care health is integral to general health. However limited studies reflect physiotherapy students’ dental practices such as frequency of toothbrushing, toothbrush replacement, use of oral rinses, dental flossing, use of interdental aids or knowledge of dental plaque. Study objectives This study assessed knowledge, perceptions and oral self-care practices among physiotherapy students. This descriptive cross-sectional survey recruited second- third-, and fourth-year physiotherapy students at an identified training institution in South Africa by means of a self-administered questionnaire
A total of 137 students participated in the study with a response rate of 83%. Participants indicated that 58%(n=79) had good knowledge and 85% (n=117) reported oral self-care practices. Almost all participants (99%; n=136) used a brush with toothpaste; 76% (n=104) brushed twice daily; 53% (n=72) replaced their toothbrush every 3 months and 48% (n=66) rinsed their mouth after eating. More than two-thirds of the study sample (62%; n= 84) used an interdental aid and (37%; n=50) reported dental visits once a year with (74%; n=100) only when necessary. From these 96% (n=132) experienced barriers such as costs (54%; n=71) and inadequate time (42%; n = 55). The majority of participants (72%; n=98) supported oral self-care be included in the physiotherapy curriculum.
Although there were inconsistencies in physiotherapy students’ reported oral health-related knowledge, perceptions and self-care practices, the majority of participants supported the inclusion of dental health into the undergraduate physiotherapy curriculum. This will enhance interprofessional education and improve oral health outcomes for both students and patients.


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Author Biography

Shenuka Singh, School of Health Sciences, Discipline of Dentistry, University of KwaZulu-Nata


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How to Cite

Nadasan, T., Maharaj, S., & Singh, S. (2024). Physiotherapy students’ oral health related knowledge, attitudes and practices at an identified institution of higher learning in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. South African Dental Journal, 79(03), 131–136.

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