Aim: The aim of this study was to assess factors influencing the oral health and utilization patterns of oral health services by fishermen community in Mangaluru city, Karnataka, India. Materials and methods: A house-to-house survey was conducted among 840 individuals in fishermen population. Oral health status was evaluated by employing the World Health Organization basic oral health survey form. A self-administered questionnaire was used to assess patterns of utilization of dental services and their sociodemographic details. Results: Mean decayed, missing, and filled teeth (DMFT) of the population was 3.78 ± 6.02 and prevalence of caries and periodontal conditions was 55 and 99% respectively. About 55% participants had never visited a dentist. Age, gender, and education of the respondents showed significant associations with DMFT status. Periodontal health showed significant association with age, gender, education, and income of the respondents. Visit to the dentist was associated with age, gender, education, and dental caries. The major barrier recognized in seeking dental care was the perception of not having any dental problem. Conclusion: The dental care utilization was poor, and majority of the dental visits were for tooth extraction. Lack of perceived oral health care need was the main barrier to the utilization of dental services. Clinical significance: The fishing population had high dental caries and poor periodontal health due to low utilization of dental care.
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