Objective: To investigate the relationship between sense of coherence (SOC) and oral health. It was hypothesised that subjects with better oral health status and better oral health-related behaviours have higher levels of SOC.
Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted in Goiânia-GO, Middle-West Brazil, on a sample of 664 15-year-olds randomly selected from schools. Data were collected through questionnaires, the short version of Antonovsky's SOC Scale (13-item) and clinical dental examinations. Multiple logistic regression and polytomous ordered regression were used in the data analysis. Two sets of outcome variables were selected for the analyses: oral health status (dental caries, oral cleanliness, and periodontal disease), and oral health-related behaviours (frequency of sugar intake, toothbrushing frequency, and pattern of dental attendance).
Results: Adolescents' SOC was associated with their caries experience in anterior teeth (OR=0.81 for 10 units increase in SOC scale; 95% CI=0.66-0.98), but the relationship did not remain significant after controlling for other factors. Adolescents with higher SOC were less likely to visit the dentist mainly when in trouble, compared with those with lower SOC (OR=0.83, 95% CI=0.71-0.98), or equivalently more likely to visit for mainly check-ups. Other measures of oral health status and behaviours were not significantly associated with SOC.
Conclusion: SOC was identified as a psychosocial determinant of adolescents' oral health-related behaviour, particularly affecting their pattern of dental attendance.