<p>Abstract</p> <p>Background</p> <p>Dental health is a neglected aspect of adolescent health globally but more so in low-income countries. Secondary analysis using the 2004 Zambia Global School-Based Health Survey (GSHS) was conducted in which we estimated frequencies of relevant socio-demographic variables and explored associations between selected explanatory variables and self-reported poor oral hygiene (not cleaning or brushing teeth) within the last 30 days of the completion of questionnaire.</p> <p>Findings</p> <p>Most of the 2257 respondents were males (53.9%) and went hungry (82.5%). More than 4 in 10 respondents drank alcohol (42.2%) while 37.2% smoked cannabis. Overall 10.0% of the respondents reported to have poor oral hygiene. Male respondents were 7% less likely to report to have poor oral hygiene compared to females. Compared to respondents who never drank alcohol, those who drank alcohol were 27% more likely to report to have poor oral hygiene. Respondents who smoked cannabis were 4% more likely to report to have poor oral hygiene compared to those who did not smoke cannabis. Finally, respondents who went hungry were 35% more likely to report to have poor oral hygiene compared to those who did not go hungry.</p> <p>Conclusions</p> <p>Results from this study indicate that female gender, alcohol drinking, cannabis smoking, and going hungry were associated with self-reported poor oral hygiene. The identification of these factors should guide the design and implementation of programs aimed to improve oral health among adolescents.</p
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