Risk Behaviors and Practices Toward Dental Health of School Children at Selected Primary Schools in Rwanda

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School of Nursing and Midwifery, East Africa


Background and Aim: Dental diseases present a global health issue, impacting both individuals and economies. Despite preventive measures, dental diseases remain neglected, contributing to systemic health issues and socioeconomic burdens. This study aimed to assess the risk behaviors and oral health practices among Rwandan school children in urban and rural communities. Materials and

Methods A quantitative cross-sectional approach was employed, collecting data from two public primary schools. Data analysis was conducted using SSP version 21.

Results The study reveals variations in dental health behaviors and practices between urban and rural populations. High frequency in sugar consumption, less time spent brushing, and inappropriate timing for dentist visits have been identified as the main risk behaviors toward dental health. Practices related to poor dental health include the use of inappropriate materials for tooth brushing, a long time before changing them, and non-standardized techniques used to brush teeth. Urban children had higher frequencies of dentist visits than rural children (p = 0.026). However, children from urban areas have the habit of consuming sugary drinks compared to their rural counterparts (p = 0.002). Additionally, significant differences in materials used for brushing teeth were observed, with urban children using toothbrushes and toothpaste, while rural children use charcoals (p = 0.001). The time for changing toothbrushes was statistically significantly different in these two groups (p = 0.011).

Conclusion Children from urban areas have a higher frequency of sugar consumption compared to children from rural areas. Most children from rural areas have never visited a dentist, and the majority of them reported using things other than toothbrushes to clean their teeth. The findings indicate the need to enhance educational efforts about dental care by involving parents, the community, schools, and health facility levels.


This work was published before the author joined Aga Khan University.

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