Behavioral aspects on oral health and periodontal infection control; a person-centered oral health education program to increase adolescents’ motivation for adequate oral hygiene behavior
Gingivitis is a reversible condition, but if left untreated gingivitis may over time progress into chronic and destructive periodontitis. The prevalence of chronic periodontitis is about 40% among Swedish adults. The key factor for the prevention of periodontitis is to establish infection control, by means of adequate oral hygiene. Hence, the main task for dental professionals is to educate and enhance patient´s motivation for such beneficial behavior.
In Sweden, all children and adolescents are offered free-of-charge dental care, and prevention of oral disease is the issue in focus for the care provided. Even so, epidemiological surveys reveal poor oral hygiene conditions, with a high degree of gingival/periodontal infection (gingivitis) among Swedish adolescents. This suggests a need for the development of more effective educational approaches.
To test a person-centered oral health education program, based on cognitive behavioral theory and principles, for the potential to increase adolescents motivation for self-performed periodontal infection control, i.e. adequate oral hygiene behavior.
Study participants and Method
The treatment study within the project includes 312 adolescents. The study participants were recruited among 16-17 years old, who in conjunction with their ordinary dental examination showed poor oral hygiene conditions, with a high degree of gingivitis. The study patients were distributed to treatment in accord with the theory-based and person-centered educational approach (test) or to conventional educational intervention (control). Treatment was performed by dental hygienists in the Public Dental Service, Region Västra Götaland. Clinical and questionnaire data were collected during the 18-months study period.
The project also contains qualitative interviews among adolescents and dental hygienists, on their views on treatment in accordance with the theory-based and person-centered approach.
The results will be used as a basis for forthcoming studies within the project. In the next phase, the development of a smartphone application is in progress to be used by adolescents as means for self-monitoring of oral health behaviors.
The project is carried out in collaboration between researchers representing different disciplines (oral health/odontology, psychology, pedagogics, health-economy, applied information technology) and The Public Dental Service, Region Västra Götaland.