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345 Can a behaviour change intervention improve athlete oral health?
  1. Julie Gallagher,
  2. Paul Ashley,
  3. Ian Needleman
  1. UCL Eastman Dental Institute, London, UK


Background Poor oral health of elite athletes is associated with negative performance impacts. There is a need for oral health promotion and prevention strategies that are effective within the elite sport environment

Objective To develop, implement and evaluate a pragmatic oral health promotion intervention based on contemporary behaviour change theory and informed by input from all stakeholders in elite sport.

Design Interrupted time-series intervention study.

Setting Three separate UK elite athlete-training centres.

Patients (or Participants) 62 athletes from two Olympic and one professional athlete training squads; 55 athletes completed the study.

Interventions (or Assessment of Risk Factors) Two levels: Level 1. Athletes and support team viewed combined one 10-minute presentation focussed on building motivation and three 90-second information films. Level 2. Athletes alone received oral health screening, personalised advice and an oral health toolkit focussed on opportunity and capability. Follow-up of athletes at one and three months.

Main Outcome Measurements Impact on performance (OSTRC questionnaire), oral health knowledge (8-item questionnaire), gingival inflammation, self-reported oral health problems and oral hygiene routines.

Results At baseline, 41 (66.1%) athletes had evidence of caries, 29 (46.8%) evidence of erosion, mean bleeding score was 11.57 (8.11), 44 (71%) were male and 58 (93.5%) white British. Mean OSTRC score reduced from 8.73 (14.54) to 2.73 (11.31) p<0.001. Mean knowledge score improved from 5.69 (1.59) to 6.93 (1.32) p<0.001. Gingival bleeding score was unchanged. Self-reported oral health problems reduced. Athlete use of prescription fluoride toothpaste (2800 ppm) increased from 8 (12.9%) to 45 (80.4%, p<0.001).

Conclusions This behaviour change theory-based intervention was implemented within different elite sport environments. It was associated with a reduction in self-reported performance impacts, an increase in athlete oral health knowledge and enhanced oral health behaviour.

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