Oral hygiene habits in Portugal: results from the first Health Examination Survey (INSEF 2015)

Joana Santos, Liliana Antunes, Sónia Namorado, Irina Kislaya, Ana João Santos, Ana Paula Rodrigues, Paula Braz, Vânia Gaio, Marta Barreto, Heidi Lyshol, Baltazar Nunes, Carlos Manuel Matias Dias

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Oral health is a determinant for quality of life and preventive behaviours such as regular tooth brushing can reduce the risk of a wide spectrum of oral diseases. Adopting preventive behaviours increases the likelihood of being healthy and can be conditioned by demographic and socio-economic factors. Objective: This study aims to describe preventive oral hygiene behaviours in the Portuguese population and assess their association with sociodemographic and socioeconomic factors. Material and methods: A cross-sectional epidemiologic study was developed using data from the first Portuguese National Health Examination Survey. The target population comprised Portuguese community-dwelling residents aged between 25 and 74 years old. The percentage of individuals who brushed their teeth at least twice a day, provided that once was before sleeping, was considered the indicator showing a preventive behaviour, as this is recommended by the General Directorate of Health in Portugal. Poisson regression was used to identify factors independently associated with this behaviour. Results: Sixty-five per cent of the participants reported tooth brushing as recommended. The prevalence of adoption of this preventive behaviour was higher among those living in urban areas and those who have higher educational level. Results show an association between being male and having low educational level with lesser adoption of preventive oral health behaviours. Conclusion: These findings suggest a need for integrated approaches, from measures tackling social inequalities to actions focused on improving health literacy. It is also important to expand dental healthcare services and improve effective coverage to increase access for rural population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)334-339
JournalActa Odontologica Scandinavica
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019


  • health determinants
  • Health Examination Survey
  • Oral hygiene


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