Background: There is an indisputable relationship between tooth decay and oral hygiene. Caries can only be prevented by keeping tooth decay at bay. In several prophylactic methods, brushing is the most important. Brushing efficiency is directly related to an individuals' manual dexterity.
Objective: To investigate whether there were differences in oral hygiene and caries prevalence between right- and left-handers.
Materials and methods: Forty-six elementary school students were included in the study. The subjects were 30 males and 16 females, ranging in age from 11 to 13 years. Handedness was ascertained by using the Edinburgh Handedness Scale. All students were examined intraorally. During this examination, the necessary values to determine oral hygiene status and to determine caries prevalence were recorded.
Results: It was observed that subjects who used their right hands were in a better position in terms of oral hygiene than those using the left (P < 0.01). In terms of caries prevalence, however, averages for right-handed individuals were lower than those for left-handed subjects, although the difference was not statistically significant.
Conclusions: It can be stated that the right-handed individuals have better oral hygiene and the lower incidence of caries because of their better manual dexterity and brush efficiency. So, dentists should consider better manual dexterity and brush efficiency in right-handed individuals before treatment planning. However, future well-designed neurologic studies involving larger numbers of subjects will be necessary to confirm the findings of this study and to understand more about the effects of handedness on oral hygiene performance.
Keywords: Caries experience; handedness; oral hygiene.