Motivational interviewing (MI) is an effective intervention for improving health behavior in a number of domains, and evidence suggests that it may be useful for promoting oral health. The current pilot study was designed to provide initial evidence that, compared with a didactic control intervention, a brief MI-based intervention (BMI) delivered by dental practitioners can yield greater improvements in oral hygiene, health-care utilization, and health outcomes in a population at heightened risk for oral disease.
Either the control intervention or BMI, delivered by a dentist or a dental hygienist, was randomly assigned to 60 individuals in inpatient treatment for alcohol-use disorders. Data were obtained by self-report and by examination at baseline and 4-, 12-, and 24-week follow-up assessments.
BMI participants reported significantly more frequent toothbrushing during follow-up than control participants. No other significant effects were found.
These findings indicate that a brief intervention using MI methods can be delivered by dental professionals and has potential utility for promoting improved oral hygiene. Additional research to investigate and further develop MI's potential for promoting oral health appears warranted.