Dentists can now use psychological techniques to help patients get cleaner teeth, a new study says.
Researchers observed a reduction in dental plaque and bleeding, as well as an increase in dental cleanings among adults with moderate periodontal disease, according to research published in April in Journal of Periodontology.
“Our study shows that by adopting a simple psychological intervention, aided by the use of an online risk assessment tool, we can significantly improve measurable clinical outcomes and reduce initial signs of gum disease in patient seen routinely general dental practice,” Koula Asimakopoulou, a researcher at King’s College and study lead author, in a news release.
Researchers registered 97 adults with moderate peridontal disease in a program at King’s College London, offering them either usual dental treatment, treatment and a report on their disease risk, or treatment, a report and a program to improve their dental health.
Over the course of 12 weeks, the researchers report they saw significant improvement on dental plaque and gum inflammation among the two groups receiving psychological interventions, but not the usual treatment group.
Periodontal disease, which starts with gingivitis, infect teeth and inflame the gums, alveolar bone and periodontal ligament. More severe forms of periodontitis can completely erode the bone around the teeth.
“At a time when the best way to improve the periodontal health of the majority of people is being considered, this paper demonstrates how interdisciplinary teams of psychologists and dentists working together can deliver improvements in patients’ oral health and periodontal status,” Asimakopoulou said. “Shaping how health information is presented to our patients appears to influence their subsequent behavior.”
The Journal of the American Dental Association reported that about 42 percent of over age 30 has periodontitis.
“Good daily oral care is a core element of achieving and maintaining good oral health, and this may have an impact on other aspects of health as well,” Asimakopoulou said.