Purpose: To investigate knowledge of and attitudes towards prevention of dental caries among Iranian dental educators in relation to their personal and academic background. Materials and Methods: Of the 15 Iranian state dental schools, 7 were selected by stratified random sampling to serve as clusters. All the present educators (n = 363) were individually asked to voluntarily complete a pre-tested anonymous questionnaire. A total of 291 educators completed the questionnaire (response rate of 80%). The questionnaire requested information on educators knowledge of caries prevention and attitudes towards preventive dentistry. The educators age, gender, highest academic degree, department of teaching, and familiarity with the discipline of dental public health (DPH) served as background factors. Chi-square test and a logistic regression model served in statistical analyses. Results: Educators working in paedodontics, operative dentistry or periodontology departments had more extensive knowledge of caries prevention than did the others (p < 0.05). Women, as well as those familiar with DPH, reported more positive attitudes towards prevention than did the others (p = 0.05). In the regression model, having a more positive attitude towards prevention was associated with female gender (OR = 2.2, 95% CI: 1.2–4.1), more extensive knowledge of caries prevention (OR = 2.4, 95% CI: 1.1–5.6), and greater familiarity with DPH (OR = 2.0, 95% CI: 1.1–4.1). Conclusions: Dental educators seem to have different knowledge of and attitudes towards prevention based on their disciplines. This may reflect negatively in preventive practice among both the educators and students. Continuing education activities and placing emphasis and support on prevention-related research are recommended.
Keywords: attitude, dental education, knowledge, preventive dentistry