Background: Oral habits could be functional or parafunctional. The first result from repeating a normal function while the second are acquired by practicing a nonfunctional or unnecessary action. The parafunctional habits that have been observed with the highest prevalence are finger and lip sucking; biting (objects, onychophagia, cheilophagia and tongue protraction), bruxism and mouth breathing. Some of the negative sequel associated with prolonged habits like digit and non-nutritive sucking behaviours and tongue thrusting include a higher incidence of anterior open bite, maxillary incisor protrusion, class II canine relationship, distal step molar relationship, posterior cross bites, and lip incompetence. The prevalence of oral habits in schoolchildren has not been clearly documented in different population groups across Saudi Arabia. Hence, the aim of this study is to determine the prevalence of oral habits among 7 to 15 years old school children in Taif, Saudi Arabia. Methods: This crosssectional study was conducted at the Faculty of Dentistry, Taif University Taif, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia between January and June 2019. The study population between 7 and 15 years of age who were attending to the dentistry clinics at Taif University. Children with mental retardation, severe chronic diseases, syndromes or systematic disease that could affect the maxillofacial area were excluded. The total sample included 566 children, both males (358) and females (208). Study subjects were selected by systematic random sampling. The data was recorded by clinical examination without radiographs according to the clinical parameters and clinical findings. It was carried out by 6 examiners following WHO guidelines 9. All the data gathered were coded and entered into SPSS, version 21.0, IBM. The data were checked for normality using Kolmogorov smirnov statistics and appropriate statistical tests were used. Categorical variables were counted and expressed as frequencies and percentages. Chi square test was used to determine the significance and the p=0.05 was considered as statistically significant. Results: Percentage of total prevalence of oral habits for thumb sucking, tongue thrusting and mouth breathing was 10.7%, 20.84%, and 6.18% of the study sample, respectively. In addition, the percentages of boys affected by thumb sucking, tongue thrusting and mouth breathing were 13%, 26% and 8%, respectively. Whereas, girls with thumb sucking, tongue thrusting and mouth breathing account for 5%, 12% and 2%, respectively. Boys had a significantly higher percentage of thumb sucking than girls (χ2=10.058, p=0.001). Similarly, tongue thrusting and mouth breathing were more prevalent in boys than girls and the differences were statistically significant (χ2=15.534 and 8.009, respectively; p=0.000 and 0.0004 respectively). Conclusions: The prevalence of parafunctional habits was found to be statistically significant in the Al-Taif region of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The prevalence of thumb sucking, tongue thrusting and mouth breathing was 10.7%, 20.84%, and 6.18% respectively. Boys showed statistically higher prevalence of thumb sucking, tongue thrusting and mouth breathing than girls. Proper preventive measures at an early age by parents as well as general dental practitioners is need of time for preventing future deleterious effects from such habits.
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