Promoting Oral and Dental Health Through Dentistry

Having healthy teeth and gums not only improves one’s appearance but also enhances quality of life. It enables us to communicate, develop human relationships and enjoy food and drink. However, oral health is often taken for granted and poor dental health has serious consequences including costly and disabling conditions such as tooth decay and periodontitis.

In this context, the aim of the present study was to explore the perceived role and activities of dental professionals in promoting oral and dental health in their patients. To this end, individual in-depth interviews were conducted with 16 Swedish dental professionals (dentists, dental hygienists and dental assistants). The data were analyzed using thematic analysis. Two themes were identified: ‘having a person-focused approach’ and ‘perceiving social responsibility for oral health’.

The participants regarded health promotion as an important aspect of their professional role. They aspired to involve their patients in health-promoting activities such as education and communication, but were not sure how to go about this. They also did not clearly distinguish between oral health promotion and disease prevention.

They viewed their role in health promotion as a collaboration between themselves and their patients, as well as with other healthcare professionals and organizations. They believed that the best way to promote oral and dental health in their patients was through establishing a trusting relationship. This included facilitating patients to become more involved in their own care and providing them with support.

Lastly, the participants viewed their role in health promotion as an ongoing process of learning, developing and practicing skills. They referred to this as an ‘intentional change coaching’ and ‘integrative health coaching’ approach, which is grounded in theory and research on behavioral change. Using a coaching approach, the provider supports the patient to plan, act and follow up on actions they have set for themselves to initiate or maintain a healthier behaviour.

The findings of this study add to the understanding of the complexities involved in health promotion. While tackling the underlying determinants of health at policy level will require decades, dental professionals have the potential to contribute to behaviour change by empowering their patients to take ownership of their own health and wellbeing through consistent messaging about the societal, environmental and cost-saving benefits of preventive dental care. For more helpful dental health tips, or to schedule an appointment with Karen Rosen DDS, a a dentist in Torrance . We look forward to helping you keep your smile in tip-top shape. We serve patients in Torrance and surrounding communities. We love seeing smiling faces.