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Stomatologija. 2010;12(1):3-9.

Theory-based oral health education in adolescents.

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Institute of Odontology, Vilnius University, Lithuania.



The aims were to overview the previous use of psychological theories for oral health education in adolescents and to discuss current approaches which could enhance the effectiveness of behaviour modification in this age group.


The MEDLINE via OVID database was searched for relevant papers published during the last four decades.


Only a few studies using psychological models and theories in oral health education for adolescents could be found and these studies were carried out a few decades ago. It was shown that socially disadvantaged adolescents, i.e. those who have the greatest need for improvements in oral health, might benefit most from the theory-based behavioural interventions. However, evidence from these trials can not be directly used to base oral health education in contemporary adolescents. An important consideration is that psychological models and theories developed for adults may not apply as well to adolescents, who are at different stages of behavioural development and with different cognitive abilities.


Understanding the adolescent profile in oral health education appears to be crucial for success. The theory-based approaches to health behaviour modification, already successfully applied in other fields of medicine, might be a good alternative to conventional oral health promotion in adolescents.

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