Is toothbrushing behaviour habitual? Cues, context, motivators and patient narratives.

Raison, Heather, Corcoran, Rhiannon ORCID: 0000-0001-8900-9199 and Harris, Rebecca V ORCID: 0000-0002-5891-6826
(2021) Is toothbrushing behaviour habitual? Cues, context, motivators and patient narratives. Community Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology.

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<h4>Objectives</h4>Toothbrushing is generally considered as a key self-care behaviour necessary for maintaining good oral health. Although twice-daily brushing is widely recommended as beneficial since this provides both biofilm removal and a regular application of fluoride, some people such as those with low socio-economic (SES) backgrounds often brush less regularly. Habit theory identifies that behaviours become habitual when they are undertaken repeatedly in response to a particular cue within a stable context. Once behaviour becomes automatic, long-term maintenance is more likely even if motivation wanes. Establishing toothbrushing as a habitual behaviour is therefore an intervention strategy which may help reduce health inequalities. Therefore, the objective was to more fully understand the nature of toothbrushing behaviour in adults and what prompts its instigation and execution in the morning and evening, in order to inform the design of interventions in this area.<h4>Methods</h4>Twenty-nine semi-structured interviews were undertaken in an urgent dental care centre in a deprived area of North West England. Thematic analysis using a framework method was used to code the data into theoretically derived categories.<h4>Results</h4>Morning toothbrushing was found to be strongly integrated into cleansing routines and was identified as a behaviour predominantly initiated in response to visual cues. Some toothbrushing behaviour was prompted by internal cues, expressed as strong feelings or urges. These were more related to night-time toothbrushing habits. Common morning motivators were aesthetics and social acceptability. Evening motivators were relatively idiosyncratic. Cleaning of the mouth following a hard, manual working day emerged as a strong driver for low SES males.<h4>Conclusion</h4>Understanding the nature of habitual morning and evening toothbrushing is important for the design of effective behavioural interventions, especially those aiming to achieve sustainable improvement in the frequency of night-time toothbrushing.

Item Type: Article
Divisions: Faculty of Health and Life Sciences
Faculty of Health and Life Sciences > Institute of Population Health
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 02 Mar 2022 09:24
Last Modified: 05 Oct 2022 20:11
DOI: 10.1111/cdoe.12624
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