Does motivational Interviewing improve oral health?

shutterstock_161938058Key Findings

  • Motivational interviewing (MI) shows some potential to improve plaque and bleeding index. 
  • There is limited data on its effectiveness. Hence, MI can be used in adjunct to other approaches to improve patients’ oral health.

Rationale and Aim of the Study

Motivational interviewing (MI) is a person-centred approach that could potentially provoke behavioural change. This review aims to assess whether this approach, is effective in preventing oral diseases in adults. This study was carried out given the limited evidence of MI’s impact on adult oral health.

How the Study Was Done

The study employed a systematic review and meta-analysis approach, using robust guidelines (PRISMA). The researchers included different designs of randomised controlled trials assessing MI interventions for adults aged 18-60 years. The databases searched were MEDLINE, Scopus, Web of Science, and LILACS. The main outcome was any oral morbidity, with a focus on periodontal outcomes. Data analysis was conducted using statistical software to evaluate the effects of MI on gum health indicators.

What Did They Found

Seven studies were included, all evaluating periodontal outcomes in a total of 272 people with moderate-to-severe periodontitis. Some studies also included pregnant women and people with mental health or alcohol issues. Further analysis (meta-analysis) indicated marginal benefits of MI on periodontal health, but the confidence intervals were wide, suggesting uncertainty about the benefits due to the limitations of the evidence.


The researchers concluded that there isn’t enough evidence to be certain about the clinical effectiveness of MI to prevent oral diseases in adults. They only found studies on gingival health, and the results were too mixed to make a clear conclusion.

Paper citation

Cartes-Velásquez R, Varnet-Pérez T, Martínez-Delgado CM, Villanueva-Vilchis MDC, Ramírez-Trujillo MLÁ, Faustino-Silva DD. Motivational interviewing for preventing oral morbidities in adults: Systematic review and meta-analysis. Community Dent Oral Epidemiol. 2024;52(1):84-92. doi:10.1111/cdoe.12904

Comments for Dental Professionals

The marginal benefits observed for periodontal health suggest that MI could be a useful adjunct to traditional oral health interventions. However despite favouring the MI group in improving periodontal health for patients, challenges such as data discrepancies among studies affect result precision. Further research is needed to confirm these benefits and to explore the effectiveness of MI in preventing other oral morbidities.

Picture Credits

*Picture captured from Unsplash by Christina (@wocintechchat)

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