Background: A multi-disciplinary approach is needed for effective dental education of children. Teachers can be used as oral health educators but only if they have a good knowledge, attitude and practice of oral health. This study's main objective was to compare the oral health knowledge, attitude and practices of public and private primary school teachers and to determine the proportion of teachers presently involved with oral health education of school children.
Method: The study was carried out on 320 private and 320 public school teachers in Benin-City, Nigeria, using self-administered questionnaire.
Results: The result revealed that the teachers involved in this study generally had positive attitude to oral health. Many of the two groups of primary school teachers had poor oral health practices. Only 42.4% of the respondents have ever been to the dentist for routine dental checkup or treatment. About 87.6% of teachers still use potentially traumatic materials for interdental cleaning and 60% of teachers consume regularly various forms of refined sugar. Over 90% of the two groups of teachers are presently involved in teaching their pupils basic oral health education although they have a poor knowledge of the aetiology of the two most common oral diseases. The teachers' major source of oral health information is the dentist.
Conclusion: Similar pattern of incomplete oral health knowledge, inappropriate oral practices but positive oral health attitude was observed among the two groups of the studied teachers. This observation suggests that the primary school teachers can serve as oral health educators after organized training to heighten their oral health knowledge and perfect their oral practices.
© 2011 John Wiley & Sons A/S.