Alerting patients to risk of gum disease is beneficial

gum disease

Using psychological techniques to communicate the risk of developing periodontal disease to patients improved dental hygiene over a three-month period, UK researchers have found. 

Such techniques were associated with reduced scores for gum inflammation as well.

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 program of goal-setting, planning and self-monitoring based on psychological theory.

The study—published in the Journal of Periodontology—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.

“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 patients seen routinely in general dental practice,” lead author Dr Koula Asimakopoulou said.

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