In a new study published in the Journal of Periodontology researchers found that using psychological techniques to communicate the risk of developing periodontal disease to patients improved dental hygiene over a three month period. It was further associated with reduced scores for gum inflammation as well.
Periodontal diseases are infections that cause inflammation of the structures around the teeth, including the gums, periodontal ligament and alveolar bone. In the earliest stage of periodontal disease — gingivitis — the inflammation is limited to the surface of the gums. In more severe forms of the disease – periodontitis – bone is destroyed around the teeth.
The team of scientists from King’s College London’s Faculty of Dentistry, Oral & Craniofacial Sciences tested a group of 97 adults with moderate periodontal disease who were registered patients at a London General Dental Practice. They either received treatment as usual, an individualised report on their periodontal disease risk (PreViserTM), or an individualised report plus a programme of goal-setting, planning and self-monitoring based on psychological theory.
The study found that over 12 weeks:
- Dental plaque reduced significantly in the two groups with whom risk was communicated, but not in the “treatment as usual” group.
- The percentage of areas that bled on examination (gum inflammation) reduced in all groups, but the effect was more pronounced in the groups that received the psychological intervention.
- Frequency of interdental cleaning improved only in the intervention groups