Adolescent Toothbrushing and Its Association with Sociodemographic Factors—Time Trends from 1994 to 2018 in Twenty Countries

Apolinaras Zaborskis, Aistė Kavaliauskienė, Sharon Levi, Riki Tesler, Elitsa Dimitrova

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Regular toothbrushing is the primary self-care method to prevent the most common dental diseases and is considered an important public health indicator. This retrospective observational study aimed to examine cross-national time trends in adolescent toothbrushing behaviour and its association with sociodemographic factors between 1994 and 2018. We studied data from 20 countries that conducted seven surveys of the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) study. Adolescents aged 11, 13 and 15 years responded to questions on their toothbrushing frequency, family affluence and structure. Altogether, reports of 691,559 students were analysed using descriptive statistics and binominal logistic regression. The findings showed an overall positive trend in the prevalence of more-than-once-a-day toothbrushing frequency during the entire study period mainly due to a noticeable increase from 1994 to 2010 (except Denmark and Sweden); this trend continued significantly thereafter in 12 of 20 countries. Across all countries, girls and adolescents from more affluent families were more likely to brush their teeth regularly. These relationships remained unchanged throughout the study period, whereas the age-related difference in toothbrushing prevalence decreased noticeably, and the negative relationship between toothbrushing and living in a non-intact family became evident. While the prevalence of regular toothbrushing among adolescents has increased in recent decades, it is still far behind the recommended level of twice-daily brushing for everyone across all countries. The promotion of toothbrushing needs to start at an early age, with a special focus on boys and adolescents from low-affluence and non-intact families.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3148
JournalHealthcare (Switzerland)
Issue number24
StatePublished - 12 Dec 2023
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 by the authors.


  • adolescents
  • dental public health
  • HBSC
  • sociodemographic factors
  • time trends
  • toothbrushing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Leadership and Management
  • Health Policy
  • Health Informatics
  • Health Information Management


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