Better dental hygiene thanks to a different way of receiving information

Better dental hygiene thanks to a different way of receiving information

How great would it be if your dental self-care behavior would improve simply by the dentist providing info in a more autonomy-supportive way? Self-determination theory suggests that long-term maintenance of behavior change, such as changing your dental self-care habits, can be achieved by feeling autonomous and competent enough in doing the behavior.

In the study of Halvari (2007) participants were randomly assigned to two groups. Both of the groups received a dental examination on T1 and on T3 (7 months later). The “intervention group” spent 60 min in an informational session with their dentist on T2 and received info about dental self-care in an autonomy-supportive way. This made the participants feel as if they made the choice of changing their dental self-care themselves. The group who did not receive the intervention (control group) felt as if their change in dental self-care was more controlled by the dentist. The dentist checked for gingivitis and plaque on T1 and how much it had changed on T3. The intervention group significantly decreased gingivitis from T1 to T3, relative to the control group. This means that a simple intervention in which information is provided in an autonomy-supportive way can help you change your behavior in a beneficial way. This way of providing info has not only been found to be beneficial in changing your dental self-care. It can also help in the adherence to medication, involvement in physical activities, smoking cessation and many more long-term behavioral changes.


Halvari Anne E. Münster, & Halvari, H. (2007). Motivational predictors of change in oral health: an experimental test of self-determination theory. Motivation and Emotion31(4), 331–331.

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