An Epidemiological Study of Alfred University Undergraduate Students' Oral Health Habits: Changes in Habits and Behaviors in Response to the Transition of College Life

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College is a transitional period of young adulthood for many students, and there are limited studies that focus on how college affects students’ oral health. The objectives of this study were to determine the current status of college students’ oral health, to learn how much these students know about oral health care and prevention, and to see if these students’ oral health habits and experiences change as they spend more time in college. A total of 100 Alfred University students participated in this study. At the time of data collection, these students have spent between one and five consecutive years in college. To gather information about students’ current oral health and oral health changes since attending college, I used a combination of a self-reporting questionnaire and a photo-based observational oral exam. Data were analyzed using Minitab18 Statistical Software. As a whole, Alfred University students’ oral health was shown to be most affected by signs of gingivitis, dental staining, and dental erosion. This study found that there is a general uncertainty among Alfred University students regarding oral health care and prevention. This study did not prove a linear relationship between consecutive years spent in college and changes in oral health habits. However, the fifth year demographic of students appears to cause a significant association between certain oral health variables and years spent in college. Further investigation into the fifth year student demographic could help deduce the reason behind this trend. This study will continue the discussion of oral health care at Alfred University for future generations through poster-based programming. The oral health habits that students develop while in college will likely influence their life-long oral and general well-being. Due to this, it is imperative that more research in the area of undergraduate student oral health is performed in the recent future.
Thesis completed in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Alfred University Honors Program.
Honors thesis, Health, Oral health, Habits