Effect of mHealth in improving oral hygiene: A systematic review with meta-analysis

J Clin Periodontol. 2019 Mar;46(3):297-309. doi: 10.1111/jcpe.13083.


Aim: To evaluate the effectiveness of mobile applications and text messages, compared with conventional oral hygiene instructions, for improving oral health knowledge and/or reducing gingival inflammation, when delivered to adolescents, adults and mothers of young children.

Methods: Randomized clinical trials evaluating the use of mobile applications or text messages related to oral hygiene and/or oral health education were screened. A search was performed in the Medline-PubMed, Scopus and Embase databases and the grey literature. The eligible studies comprised those related to plaque, gingival bleeding and/or oral health knowledge as outcomes. The risk of bias was assessed with the Cochrane tool and the GRADE system. Two meta-analyses were carried out.

Results: Among the fifteen studies selected, twelve (80%) used text messages and thirteen (87%) showed better results when mobile technology was used. The pooled SMD for the dental plaque index (n = 10 studies) was -9.43 (95% CI -14.36 to -4.495; I2 = 99%, p < 0.001), and that of gingival bleeding (n = 7 studies) was -8.54 (95% CI -13.16 to -3.91; I2 = 99%, p < 0.001), indicating significant improvement in dental plaque control and gingival bleeding for groups that received the mobile health (mHealth) strategy.

Conclusion: mHealth can be used as an adjunct component in managing gingivitis, acquiring oral health knowledge and improving oral hygiene.

Keywords: behaviour change; mHealth; mobile app; oral condition; text messages.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Dental Plaque Index
  • Dental Plaque*
  • Gingivitis*
  • Humans
  • Oral Hygiene
  • Telemedicine*