Improving periodontal outcomes: merging clinical and behavioral science

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Abstract

New data indicate that periodontal diseases are much more prevalent than previously thought, which means that there are large numbers of patients who will need to be diagnosed and treated for periodontal disease in a general dental practice. Oral hygiene procedures performed by patients between office visits are important for gingival health. No particular type of toothbrush has consistently been shown to have superior plaque-removal ability over another. Although studies on powered brushes have shown evidence for efficacy of biofilm removal and increased patient compliance, they are of short duration, making evaluation of long-term effects difficult to achieve. Interdental cleaning with dental floss can be effective but it is technique-sensitive. Interdental brushes have been shown to be superior to floss in plaque index scores, but not in gingival inflammation reduction. A systematic review of oral irrigation reported a beneficial adjunctive effect on bleeding and gingival indices and pocket depth. Antimicrobials in mouthrinses and toothpastes have shown significant reductions in plaque and gingivitis when used correctly. Even though it is considered essential for patients to utilize biofilm-removal techniques on a frequent basis, studies on adherence show that approximately 30–60% of health information is forgotten within 1 h, and 50% of health recommendations are not followed. Incorporating psychosocial aspects of behavioral change, including well-established counseling strategies, such as motivational interviewing, may elicit improved patient outcomes.

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