Background: Oral diseases are common and widespread around the world. Many oral health problems are preventable and early onset is reversible. Myanmar faces many challenges in rendering oral health services and about 70 percent of total population resides in rural areas. These relate to the availability and accessibility of oral health services. Therefore, oral health education is one key element to prevent oral diseases and to promote oral health.
Methods: A quasi-experimental study was carried out at Basic Education Middle Schools in rural areas of Magway Township to study the effectiveness of oral health education on knowledge and behavior of eight to ten years old school children. A total of 220 school children, 110 from intervention school and 110 from control school, participated in this study from 2015 to 2017. Data for knowledge and behavior were collected before and after intervention in the two groups by using self-administered questionnaire. Tooth brushing method data were collected by direct observation with checklist. Oral health education was provided at eight weekly intervals for one year in the intervention group. After one year and six months, oral health knowledge and behavior were determined in the intervention group only to measure retention. Chi-square test, two samples t test, One way repeated measure ANOVA were used for data analysis. The study was approved by the Ethics Review Committee of University of Public Health in Yangon, Myanmar.
Results: After education, a positive net effect of intervention and significant improvement was found in the intervention group compared to the control group regarding oral health knowledge (p<0.05) except one that is foods that can cause dental caries (p=0.107) and behavior (p<0.001). Retention of mean ± standard deviation on knowledge and behavioral scores were 2.45±1.12, 3.79±1.12, 4.07±0.98 and 1.56±0.90, 3.60±1.21, 3.24±1.31 at baseline, at one year after education and at six months after cessation of education respectively, and, total knowledge and behavioral scores were significantly improved (p<0.001) among the school children in the intervention group.
Conclusion: The repeated oral health education was effective to promote and sustain oral health knowledge and behavior. Word counts: 342