The effect of using a mobile application (“WhiteTeeth”) on improving oral hygiene: A randomized controlled trial

Janneke F. M. Scheerman, Berno van Meijel, Pepijn van Empelen, Gijsbert H. W. Verrips, Cor van Loveren, Jos W. R. Twisk, Amir H. Pakpour, Matheus C. T. van den Braak, Gem J. C. Kramer

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Objective: To evaluate the effectiveness of the WhiteTeeth mobile app, a theory-based mobile health (mHealth) program for promoting oral hygiene in adolescent orthodontic patients. Methods: In this parallel randomized controlled trial, the data of 132 adolescents were collected during three orthodontic check-ups: at baseline (T0), at 6-week follow-up (T1) and at 12-week follow-up (T2). The intervention group was given access to the WhiteTeeth app in addition to usual care (n = 67). The control group received usual care only (n = 65). The oral hygiene outcomes were the presence and the amount of dental plaque (Al-Anezi and Harradine plaque index), and the total number of sites with gingival bleeding (Bleeding on Marginal Probing Index). Oral health behaviour and its psychosocial factors were measured through a digital questionnaire. We performed linear mixed-model analyses to determine the intervention effects. Results: At 6-week follow-up, the intervention led to a significant decrease in gingival bleeding (B = −3.74; 95% CI −6.84 to −0.65) and an increase in the use of fluoride mouth rinse (B = 1.93; 95% CI 0.36 to 3.50). At 12-week follow-up, dental plaque accumulation (B = −11.32; 95% CI −20.57 to −2.07) and the number of sites covered with plaque (B = −6.77; 95% CI −11.67 to −1.87) had been reduced significantly more in the intervention group than in the control group. Conclusions: The results show that adolescents with fixed orthodontic appliances can be helped to improve their oral hygiene when usual care is combined with a mobile app that provides oral health education and automatic coaching. Netherlands Trial Registry Identifier: NTR6206: 20 February 2017.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-83
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Dental Hygiene
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2020

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