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 behavior 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.
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.