Title: 0037 - Parent-Targeted Text Messages to Improve Oral Health Among High-Risk Children


Belinda Borrelli (Presenter)
Boston University, Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine

Michelle Henshaw, Boston University, Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine
Romano Endrighi, Boston University, Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine
William Adams, Boston Medical Center
Scott Werntz, Agile Health, Inc.
Timothy Heeren, Boston University, School of Public Health
Carolina Goncalves, Boston University, Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine
Rosalind Gray-Bauer, Boston University, Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine


Objectives: Objective: 85% of adults text-message (TM). This is a pilot randomized trial testing initial effects of oral health text messages (OHT) vs. control (child wellness text messages; CWT). OHT was hypothesized to outperform CWT on improving pediatric oral health behaviors and parent attitudes.

Methods: Methods: Parents with a child <7 years were recruited at urban clinics during pediatric appointments (79%<poverty-line; 67% black, 14.5% Hispanic) and were randomized to OHT (n=28; brushing, dental visits, bottle/sippy cups, healthy eating/sugary beverages, fluoride) or CWT (n=27; reading, safety, physical activity/development, secondhand smoke, stress). Automated TMs were sent twice/day for 8-weeks. Groups were equivalent on TM dose, personalization, interactivity, and opportunity to earn electronic badges. Self-reported assessments were at baseline and 9 weeks later. Data were analyzed with linear mixed-effects models. Effect sizes were calculated using Cohen’s d or odds ratios.

Results: Results: Only one participant dropped-out. TM response rates (74.3%), follow-up survey completion rates (84.5%) and program satisfaction (M=6.3; 1-7 scale) were high, with no significant group differences. 84% of OHT would recommend the program, and reported that TMs were relevant to their family (M=6.3, 1-7 scale), and impacted brushing their child’s teeth, motivation to brush, and their oral health knowledge (M=4.7, M=4.6, M=4.6, respectively; 1-5 scales). Reduction in cariogenic food/drinks favored OHT (Cohen’s d=0.23). At follow-up, compared to CWT, OHT were more likely to brush their children’s teeth 2x/day (OR=1.4; 95%CI=0.3, 6.5) and improved in their: 1) self-efficacy to promote oral health behaviors in their children (Cohen’s d=0.20), 2) belief that limiting sugary foods/drinks helps prevent cavities (OR=1.68;95% CI=0.23-11.86), belief that baby teeth can develop cavities (OR=1.98; 95% CI=0.54-7.18), and belief in the importance of fluoride toothpaste (OR=3.82; 95%CI=0.9-16.8; p=.07).

Conclusions: Conclusions: As hypothesized, group differences were not significant, but the direction of effects favored OHT. The program was well-utilized, appealing to parents, and shows promise.

This abstract is based on research that was funded entirely or partially by an outside source:
NIDCR UH2 DE025492-02

Disclosure Statement:
The submitter must disclose the names of the organizations with which any author have a relationship, the nature of the relationship, and the clinical or research area involved. The following is submitted: Belinda Borrelli: None, Michelle Henshaw: None, Romano Endrighi: None, William G. Adams: None, Scott Werntz: He is the President of Agile Health Inc, the company who provided the hosted texted messages and has collaborated on the curriculum. We are contracted on a fee for service basis. The presenter, Dr. Belinda Borrelli, will disclose this information during the presentation, should the abstract be selected for presentation, Timothy Heeren: None, Carolina Goncalves: None, Rosalind Gray-Bauer: None,

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