Aim: The aim of this study is to assess the impact of dental visits on oral health awareness among the Saudi population.
Materials and methods: A cross-sectional survey was conducted in Saudi Arabia. An online self-administered questionnaire was distributed from January 2011 to June 2013. The questionnaire consisted of 21 multiple choice questions which was categorized into four: demographic data, dental care status, oral hygiene behavior, and oral health knowledge (OHK). Responses to the questions in the OHK category were grouped and scored according to their percentage of correct answers: 1 = very poor (0 to <25% correct), 2 = poor (25% to <50% correct), 3 = acceptable (50 to <75% correct), and 4 = good (75–100% correct). The sample was divided based on dental visit behavior into poor, average, and good dental visitors. Descriptive statistics, group comparisons, correlations, and linear regressions were conducted using SPSS (V16.0). A significance was set at p < 0.05.
Results: A total of 845 participants were included: 73.4% were females, 85.1% were older than 19 years, 76.9% had a college-level education, and 75.3% were from western Saudi Arabia. A total of 14.1% were poor dental visitors, 67.5% were average dental visitors, and 18.5% were good dental visitors. The good dental visitor group showed significantly better results than the other two groups in terms of dental services received, brushing habits, interdental cleansing habits, use of miswak, and OHK (p < 0.05). The best predictors with significant but weak effects on dental visit habits were brushing habits, interdental cleansing habits, use of miswak, and OHK (F(8,836) = 7.212, R2 = 0.065, p < 0.0001).
Conclusion: Dental visits were significantly correlated with OHK. However, the impact of dental visits on oral health awareness was found to be weak.
Clinical significance: Well-designed preventive and educational dental visit programs need to be widely implemented as part of the governmental oral health plans.