Individually, people can prevent dental caries by sugar restriction and periodontal disease by toothbrushing. The aim of this study was to determine the toothbrushing frequency and consumption of sweets and soft drinks in some European countries. The data were obtained during the winter of 1983-84 from schoolchildren aged 11.5, 13.5 and 15.5 in Austria, England, Finland and Norway. Except for England, the samples were nationally representative. The questionnaires were completed at school. Dental health habits apparently were best in Norway, as the toothbrushing frequency was highest and the consumption of sweets and soft drinks was lowest. The toothbrushing frequency of boys was lowest in Finland. The consumption of sweets and soft drinks was very high in Austria and England. Such international comparisons should be used when evaluating and directing national programmes of preventive dentistry.
As part of the comprehensive study "Health Behavior in Schoolchildren. A WHO Cross National Survey", this paper set out to identify determinants of four dental health behavioral dimensions in Finnish, Norwegian, and Swedish schoolchildren aged 11, 13, and 15. The data were collected by means of self-administered questionnaires, and the results are considered to be representative of each country. The total sample size approximated 3000 pupils in each country. The four dependent variables, fluoride, interdental cleaning, sugar, and brushing behavior, were all based upon sum-scores of several questions, and were subsequently regressed upon five predictors: school achievement, sex, time spent with friends, educational plans, and family meal pattern. This model provided a far better fit to the data on sugar and brushing behavior than to fluoride and interdental cleaning behavior. However, brushing seems to be different from sugar behavior, being influenced by different factors. While brushing is closely linked to the prevailing sex-role pattern, sugar behavior is stronger related to peer group norms. Thus, the symbolic function of sweet consumption of the youth culture should have implications for the design of intervention strategies. For example, the provision of alternative behaviors will only be successful if the behaviors serve the same function as sugar consumption.
The present study was part of the project "Health Behavior in Schoolchildren. A WHO Cross National Survey". The distribution of eight dental health behaviors among Finnish, Norwegian, and Swedish schoolchildren aged 11, 13, and 15 yr was studied separately for boys and girls. The sample size approximated 3000 individuals for each country, and the samples are considered to be representative for whole countries. The distinction between individual and collective behavior was empirically supported in this study. Thus collective behaviors (supervised fluoride rinsing and distribution of fluoride tablets) did not vary according to sex but declined with increasing age. On the other hand, individual behaviors varied according to sex and tended to increase in frequency with increasing age. The levels of the studied dental health behaviors were different among the three countries. This may be related to country-specific preventive policies as well as social and cultural norms.
This study is part of the Cross-National Survey on Health Behaviour in School-aged Children--a WHO Collaborative Study, which started in 1982. The aim of the study was to describe the oral hygiene habits (toothbrushing and flossing) of 11-year-old schoolchildren in 22 European countries (Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, FInland, France, Germany, Greenland, Hungary, Israel, Latvia, Lithuania, Northern Ireland, Norway, Poland, Russia, Scotland, the Slovak Republic, Spain, Sweden, and Wales) and Canada. The data were collected from standardized anonymous questionnaires in school classrooms during the 1993-1994 school year. At least 1300 school children, representing the whole country, participated in the study in each country. Oral hygiene habits were analyzed according to gender, age, country, school performance, and family economy. The children brushed most favorably in Sweden, Denmark, German, Austria, and Norway (83-73% brushed twice a day). More-than-once-a-day toothbrushing was especially uncommon (from 26 to 33%) among boys in Finland, Lithuania, Russia, Estonia, and Latvia. Toothbrushing frequency differed significantly according to school performance in Canada, the Czech Republic, Scotland, Poland, Northern Ireland, and Wales and between different socio-economic groups in Northern Ireland, Wales, the Czech Republic, Scotland, Poland, and Russia. Use of dental floss was rare. In general, flossing was less frequent among boys than among girls. Daily flossing was most common among Canadian adolescents (25%). In conclusion, there are considerable differences in toothbrushing frequency among children in European countries.