Introduction Few population-based studies have evaluated the prevalence of soft-tissue oral lesions in young adulthood and associated factors.
Objectives To assess the prevalence and main characteristics of oral lesions, participants self-examination and their associations with social and behaviour factors in young adults.
Methods This study was carried out nested in a population-based birth cohort from Pelotas, Brazil, started in 1982. A representative sample (n=720) of all 5914 births was interviewed and examined at aged 24. Data from several life course cohort waves were used. The lesions were classified according to type and location. Multivariable Poisson regression analyses were performed.
Results The prevalence of oral lesions was 23.3% (95% CI 20.3 to 26.6). Papules/nodules were predominant [32.0% (25.6 to 38.9)] followed by ulcers [26.5% (20.5 to 33.2)]. Gingiva was the most affected site [35.0% (28.4 to 42.0)] followed by lips [21.0% (15.6 to 27.3)]; 31% of the individuals reported that had never performed oral self-examination. Adjusted analyses showed that family low socio-economic status at birth [Prevalence Ratio (PR) = 1.56 (95% CI: 1.08 to 2.26)], lower mother's participants schooling [PR 2.79 (1.34 to 5.79)], lack of oral hygiene advices by a dentist at age 15 [PR 1.64 (1.11 to 2.41)] and be a smoker at age 22 [PR 1.41 (1.07 to 1.85)] were associated with oral lesions.
Conclusions Nearly 1/4 of the sample presented oral lesion. Papules/nodules, ulcers and erosions were the most common type of alterations of the oral mucosa. The most frequent affected oral sites were gingiva and lips. Self-examination of oral cavity should be stimulated in order to improve earlier diagnosis and treatment.