Socioeconomic-related inequalities in oral hygiene behaviors: a cross-sectional analysis of the PERSIAN cohort study

BMC Oral Health. 2020 Feb 28;20(1):63. doi: 10.1186/s12903-020-1036-6.


Background: Socioeconomic-related inequality in oral hygiene behaviors in Iran is poorly understood. This study aims to measure and decompose socioeconomic-related inequalities in oral hygiene behaviors among middle-aged and elderly adults in Iran.

Methods: A cross-sectional analysis was performed using data from the Prospective Epidemiological Research Studies in IrAN (PERSIAN), a large national cohort study. A total of 130,016 individuals aged 35 years and above from 17 cohort centers in Iran were included in the study. The normalized concentration index (Cn) was used to measure the magnitude of inequality in oral hygiene behaviors, i.e. brushing at least twice and flossing once daily, among middle-aged and elderly Iranian adults included in the cohort centers. Decomposition analysis was performed to quantify the contribution of each determinant to the observed inequality in oral hygiene behaviors.

Results: Totally, 65.5% of middle-aged and elderly adults brushed their teeth twice a day or more, 7.6% flossed at least once a day and 3.48% had both habits. The estimated Cn of the two habits combined, i.e. tooth brushing and dental flossing, for all provinces taken part in the PERSIAN cohort study was 0.399 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.383 to 0.417), indicating that the prevalence of the two habits combined is more concentrated among individuals with higher socioeconomic status. Inequality in oral hygiene behaviors was pro-rich in all cohort centers. The decomposition results suggested socioeconomic status as the main factor contributing to the overall inequality, followed by the level of education, and the province of residence.

Conclusion: A low prevalence of oral hygiene behaviors among middle-aged and elderly Iranian adults was observed. There was also a pro-rich inequality in oral hygiene behaviors among middle-aged and elderly adults in all cohort centers. These results suggest an urgent need for targeted policy interventions to increase the prevalence of preventive oral hygiene behaviors among the poor and less-educated middle-aged and elderly adults in Iran.

Keywords: Concentration index; Decomposition analysis; Iran; Oral hygiene behaviors; PERSIAN cohort; Socioeconomic inequalities.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Health Status Disparities*
  • Humans
  • Iran
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Oral Hygiene*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Social Class*
  • Socioeconomic Factors