Objective: Stress has an adverse effect on oral health and is a risk factor for plaque associated diseases. The present study aims to assess the effect of academic stress on plaque and gingival health among dental students of Moradabad, India. Methods: Fifty eligible dental students (age 18 - 22 years) undergoing university examinations participated in the study. Students were examined for plaque index (PlI) and gingival index (GI) scores during and after their examinations. Stress levels (using the DASS 21 questionnaire) and oral hygiene behavior were also assessed during and after university examinations and the data were subjected to statistical analysis. Results: The average PlI and GI were 1.213 and 0.944, respectively, during examinations and 0.845 and 0.467, respectively, after examinations. The average stress scores were 15.66 and 9.94 during and after examinations, respectively. Eighty-eight percent of the students brushed once and 12% of the students brushed twice during the university examinations, whereas 76% brushed once and 24% of the students brushed twice after their examinations. Thirty-four percent of the subjects rated their thoroughness of brushing as good during university examinations whereas the percentage increased to 80% after the examinations. All the differences were found to be statistically significant. Conclusion: Students appearing for the university examinations showed increased stress levels. Moreover, under conditions of stress, the students generally neglected their oral health care and adverse effects on their plaque and gingival scores were observed. Thus, it might be concluded that academic stress has an adverse effect on plaque levels and gingival status in students.
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