Researchers at the University of Copenhagen were interested in targeting groups of people most at risk for poor oral health and motivating them in a new way. The team of researchers had recognized that national campaigns promote a one-sided form of communication. The public is being talked at instead of spoken with about dental health. Instead of following the same pattern the University proposed a trial of a new sort of oral health awareness tactics: motivational health coaching.
When we have trouble motivating ourselves to exercise don’t we seek out a personal trainer? How beneficial would it be for a group of people who aren’t sure of how to maintain oral health or are unaware of its importance to receive guidance by way of coaching? Or at least that was the line of thinking for the research team at the University of Copenhagen. While researchers recognized the importance of things like informational brochures and commercials, they were concerned that they only elicit a one sided conversation. What if while reading a brochure you have a question you’d like answered, or what if something is unclear to you? While you can always speak with your dentist, wouldn’t it be easier to get the answers from the same source?
This study targeted diabetics specifically as the high-risk group of individuals. Diabetics are at a higher risk for having poor oral health. Some of the common conditions experienced by diabetics are:
Because the wounds of diabetics do not heal as easily or quickly as other people, all of these issues become more serious when they are experienced by someone with diabetes.
During this particular study nearly 200 people with Type II diabetes were divided into two different groups. One group was issued a series of pamphlets, much like the ones you’d find in any dentist’s office, that offered information about oral health. The second group met with a health coach for 3-6 sessions over the course of six months. During these sessions participants and coaches would discuss personal health habits, how oral health affects overall health, the effect of diet on oral health and other similar issues.
At the end of the study participants in the two groups underwent an oral health exam (the same one they had done prior the start of the study). Participants who received health coaching saw significant improvement in their oral health. Gum disease was reduced by slightly more than 50%. The group that was provided informational material remained largely unchanged. The blood sugar level of the coached group also greatly decreased.
Researchers found the results of the study very interesting. Is all that’s holding us back from optimum oral health and public awareness a little human interaction? Does the conversation need to be two-sided for people to feel like they’re getting something out of it? How much money do we spend on pamphlets that have little effect on many people? These are the kinds of questions a study like this brings rise to!
If you have any questions (we mean any at all) feel free to call Dr. D’Alfonso of Lakeway Center for Cosmetic and Family Dentistry today and speak with a dentist who cares about how much you know!