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Keywords:

  • life styles;
  • health behaviors;
  • oral hygiene;
  • health promotion;
  • dentate

Abstract

Objectives: Because the promotion of healthier life styles has become a public health issue of increasing interest, a survey was conducted to compare levels of preventive oral and general health behaviors. Methods: A randomly selected population of voters aged 19 years and older living in a multicultural suburb of metropolitan Toronto, Canada, participated in a mail survey. Results: Dentate respondents (n=976) reported high optimal levels for at least daily toothbrushing (96%); moderate levels of preventive yearly dental examination (69%); and low levels for flossing (22%), using an interdental device (25%), not snacking between meals (12%), and consuming fewer than two cariogenic foods on the previous day (26%). For the general health behaviors, the majority did not smoke (75%), had low alcohol intake (89%), used seat belts (69%), and exercised three times weekly (50%). Additive indices for the oral and general health behaviors were significantly, although weakly, correlated (r=.13; P<.001) and few respondents (31.3%) scored high on both indices. OLS regression on a combined index of oral and general health behaviors found that females, older respondents, and those with higher incomes were more likely to engage in a higher level of health behaviors. Conclusion: These results indicate the need to develop health promotion life style programs that incorporate both dental and general health components and to target these programs to younger age groups, males, and those with low incomes.