Reports & Studies

Knowledge is motivation!

PD Dr. Kristina Bertl, PhD MSc MBA

The key to success in periodontal treatment is the cooperation of the patient. If the patient fails to comply every day of their life with good and efficient oral hygiene at home and fails to attend recalls consistently, we will unfortunately fail despite all our efforts.

Knowledge is motivation!
Knowledge is motivation!

The motivation of our patients is influenced by both intrinsic and extrinsic factors, such as stress, lack of time, level of education, economic aspects, self-care, etc. ‘Motivational interviewing’ has been tested multiple times in the treatment of periodontally compromised patients, but the results thus far have been inconsistent. One problem that is also mentioned often is that it is difficult to implement from a time perspective.

A team from Turkey (Gunpinar & Meraci 2022) had the idea of including a one-off motivational interview in the treatment plan, with the aim of conveying the following information to patients:

  • motivation
  • training in home oral hygiene
  • periodontal information in terms of disease development
  • periodontal information in terms of systemic effects on the body due to periodontitis
  • importance of patient compliance (above all in terms of oral hygiene).

This idea was tested on 50 young patients with gingivitis in a randomized, controlled, clinical study. All patients were given standard treatment, but only half of the patients also had the one-off motivational interview described above. The patients were then monitored for six months, and the following interesting results were revealed:

  • A one-off motivating interview was sufficient to significantly raise knowledge about periodontal disease and increase motivation.
  • At each check up at the end of the study after six months, those patients who had taken part in a one-off motivational interview had significantly lowered plaque and bleeding values, particularly in the interdental spaces.
  • The level of knowledge about periodontal disease and the motivation correlated with better clinical results.

In summary, it was demonstrated that a one-off motivational interview with young gingivitis patients can at least help to maintain sufficient oral hygiene over the course of several months. And an important part of this motivational interview was an explanation of the disease and its possible negative effects on the body as a whole. In short: Communicating knowledge to our patients appears to increase motivation and improve treatment success!


  1. Gunpinar S, Meraci B. Periodontal health education session can improve oral hygiene in patients with gingivitis: A masked randomized controlled clinical study. J Periodontol. 2022;93:218–228.