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Motivation More Important Than Information For At-risk Dental Patients: Study

By Expert Author: Karen McDonagh

A study from the University of Copenhagen has concluded that dental education in regards to health and maintenance, specifically among diabetics, is best executed and maintained through ongoing motivation and encouragement from industry professionals, as opposed to the standard issue pamphlets and warnings doled out in most clinics passively. In the study, patients with diabetes were divided into two groups. One group was given traditional health information, for example a brochure on good dental hygiene. The other group was offered motivational health coaching in the form of 3-6 sessions over a six-month period, focusing on personal guidance on, for example, diet, stress management and dental care. figures for the test group showed massive improvements in consistency, oral health and interest in dental education, whereas figures for the control group remained unchanged. The group given coaching also showed a massive improvement in terms of consistency as time went on. Self efficiency created lasting habits among the patients that reached beyond the study and encouraged them to maintain good oral health as part of a healthy lifestyle. Diabetics were chosen for the study because they tend to be at higher risk of suffering serious oral health issues such as Periodontitis, Caries, Dry Mouth and slow wound healing. In all one hundred and eighty-six patients with type two diabetes participated in the study, the first in the world to demonstrate the role of health coaching in improving and empowering dental education among high risk groups.

"Health coaching is a resource-intensive intervention. However, dishing out a brochure to patients with diabetes and thinking that that will do it, is also a costly approach for society. Ineffective health communication due to a lack of creativity results in massive and costly problems for society. The patients we are in contact with are often both socially and financially vulnerable, and for them health coaching and follow-up can make a considerable and marked difference, both to their physical and mental health. It is also about equality in the health care system – both globally and nationally," says head of section Lone Schou from the Department of Odontology.

The results speak to a new way of thinking about how oral health is taught and understood by those most in need of education. Coaching makes an enormous difference compared with conventional health campaigns, as well as greatly improving what orthodontists are learning in the gathering of data. “we are combining biological examinations of BMI, long-range blood sugar and bacterial markers with qualitative data obtained through interviews. All the biological examinations indicate better results for the trial group,” says Ayse Basak Cinar, from the university of Copenhagen`s department of odontology.

The study was conducted in Turkey, but will continue in Denmark in the coming year.

Karen McDonagh is a proud contributing author and write articles on several subjects including Dental Education. For more information please click and see Changing Education in Dentistry .

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