Objective: Oral hygiene awareness and practices are important determinant of oral health status of a population. The objective of this study was to assess the oral hygiene awareness and practices as well as oral health status of prison inmates in Bauchi, North East Nigeria.

Methods: The study was a descriptive cross-sectional study conducted among Prison inmates at the Bauchi Medium Security Prison. Data was collected using semi-structured questionnaires while oral examination was performed to record the periodontal health and oral hygiene status of the inmates. Data were analyzed with IBM SPSS version 23.0.

Results: The mean age (SD) of the respondents was 28.9 (8.58) years.  Of the 280 respondents, 276 (98.6%) were male and about 60 per cent (163, 58.2%) lacked formal Education.  The majority of the respondents cleaned teeth more than thrice daily but 250 respondents (89.3%) had never heard of dental floss. Only five (1.8%) had ever used dental floss.  Also, 203 (72.5%) of the respondents had never visited a dentist, while most dental visits (51, 66.2%) were pain –induced.  Twenty-nine (37.7%) of respondents had visited the dentist for tooth extractions while 39 (50.5%) only received medications.  Close to seventy percent (68.6%) had poor oral hygiene.

Conclusion: The respondents had poor oral hygiene practices, used inappropriate oral hygiene materials and had poor oral hygiene. Their “impressive” oral health awareness did not translate to dental clinic attendance and service utilization.