Purpose: To investigate whether teenagers knowledge about oral health is influenced by educational methods and to verify the most effective method according to their perception.
Methods: The study was performed in Araçatuba, São Paulo State, Brazil, with 127 teenagers from a vocational school. It was realised in 3 steps: 1. An evaluation of knowledge about oral health using a self-applied questionnaire. 2. An application of educational methods, where the students were divided into two groups (A and B). Group A participated in three educational activities that involved lectures, individual demonstration, and participatory activity. Group B was divided into three subgroups (B1, B2, B3) and each of them participated in only one of the methods. 3. The acquired knowledge was evaluated. Group A created a focus group to give their opinion about strategies.
Results: With regards to knowledge after the application of the different methods in all groups, there was a statistically significant difference concerning periodontitis, gingivitis and herpes. In group A, after the three activities, and in group B2 after the individual demonstration, an association was found between healthy teeth and general health (P = 0.004 and P = 0.022, respectively). After the individual demonstration, an association was shown between variables of acquired knowledge about harmful diet and dental caries (P = 0.002) as well as good diet and prevention of oral diseases (P = 0.032). The favourite method was individual demonstration, due to the contact with educational materials, followed by participatory activity because it encouraged learning in a more dynamic way.
Conclusion: Educational methods influenced knowledge about oral health, with individual demonstration proving to be the most effective method for acquiring knowledge. In the adolescents view, the participatory activity was the preferred method.