Objective: To assess the oral health status and oral hygiene habits of undergraduate dental students in India and to analyse the influence of dental education on their oral health status. Methods: The target population comprised all first-, second-, third- and fourth-year students at a private dental college, among which 281 students participated in this study with 75.5% response rate. Clinical examination was conducted by two trained examiners according to the methodology recommended by World Health Organization oral health surveys (1997). Bivariate analysis and analysis of variance tests were performed on the data. Results: Mean decayed, missing or filled teeth score was found to be highest (1.70) for the first-year students and lowest (1.03) for the second-year students, with gingival bleeding prevalence rates of 19% and 20% respectively. As the study year progressed there was a constant improvement in their oral health. Conclusion: Oral health was significantly improved for fourth-year students compared with first-year students, implying that constant exercise and growing knowledge in the field of the profession reflects a growing capability to perform an adequate self-assessment of dental state, oral hygiene habits and oral health condition.
Keywords: caries, periodontal status, dental students, oral hygiene habits