Purpose: To investigate the sources of information on oral self-care and the content of professional guidance received on it as reported by dentate elderly patients in Lithuania, and to relate such guidance to their self-assessed knowledge of oral self-care. Materials and Methods: A cross-sectional questionnaire study was carried out at two public dental offices, among dentate patients aged ≥60. In total, 174 dentate elderly responded; mean age was 69.2 years (SD = 6.6). The self-administered questionnaire covered sources of information on and self-assessed knowledge of oral self-care, and the content of professional guidance received. Age, gender, education, and number of teeth served as background information. Statistical evaluation was by Chi-square test, correlation analysis, ANOVA, and logistic regression. Results: Most of the elderly (82%) named the dentist as the source of information. For the professional dental guidance received, 53% of our elderly reported being told how to brush, and 31% how to floss their teeth. Furthermore, 44% assessed their knowledge of oral self-care as poor, 22% as moderate, and 34% as good. At least a moderate level of knowledge of oral self-care was associated with a greater extent of professional guidance (OR 1.3; 95% CI 1.2–1.5; p < 0.001), a better dental state (OR 1.9; 95% CI 1.1–3.2; p = 0.03), and a higher level of education (OR 1.9; 95% CI 1.0–3.5; p = 0.04) in the logistic regression model, controlling for background information. Conclusions: To increase the awareness of oral self-care among the elderly, dentists play an important role as providers of versatile and regular professional guidance.
Keywords: dentate elderly, knowledge of oral self-care, Lithuania, oral health education