Using smart phones in prophylaxis
PD Dr. Kristina Bertl, PhD MSc MBA
The use of smart phones for ‘mHealth’ (mobile health) in prophylaxis is becoming more and more fashionable – but what does it involve exactly?
mHealth denotes the use of mobile electronic devices in healthcare. The idea is to communicate with our doctor via the functions, sensors and apps on our smart phones and to receive reminders of treatment measures. mHealth also enables doctors to monitor their patients (‘remote monitoring’).
But what is the take up of mHealth in dentistry and how effective is it? A Brazilian research group recently wrote a systematic review on the use of mHealth in prophylaxis – specifically for improving oral hygiene (Toniazzo et al. 2019). In total, they found 15 studies that had tested the use of mHealth in prophylaxis. In most cases mHealth consisted of simple text messages, which were sent to patients one to three times per week (sometimes several times daily!) over a specific period (usually for a couple of weeks) to remind them to perform home oral hygiene. Nearly all the studies (13 of 15) showed that this relatively simple measure led to a significant additional decrease in plaque and bleeding scores and, consequently, that mHealth should be regarded as a helpful measure in the prophylaxis and treatment of gingivitis!
- Toniazzo MP, Nodari D, Muniz FWMG, Weidlich P. Effect of mHealth in improving oral hygiene: A systematic review with meta-analysis. J Clin Periodontol. 2019;46:297–309.