The Integration Of Digital Technologies In Oral Health Education And Patient Engagement

  • Nirainila Antony Joseph Master of Science (MS), Institute of Oral Medicine, National Cheng Kung University, Taiwan
  • Regina Lopes Senior Nursing Assistant, Health and Social Care, The Open University

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Oral health education is important in preventing various dental conditions. Oral health education can enhance patient outcomes and satisfaction. In today's rapidly advancing digital era, the integration of technology into oral healthcare is inevitable. It has reshaped how oral health information is disseminated and accessed. These digital tools are potentially changing direct patient-dentist interactions. It empowers individuals to take an active role in their dental care journey.

Available digital technologies 

Websites and online resources

Websites and online resources provide accessible information on maintaining oral hygiene and preventing dental issues. Many resources, including articles, videos, interactive tools, and FAQs are offered. They cover topics such as brushing techniques, dietary recommendations, oral diseases and common dental procedures. Patients can access reliable information from reputable sources at their convenience. This empowers them to make informed decisions about their oral health. 

Some websites facilitate connections and nurture peer communities for patients to network and access valuable knowledge and support. Additionally, many dental practices have their websites, offering details about services, staff, and appointment scheduling. This enhances patient engagement and communication. 

Social media platforms 

Social media creates communication among the public, patients, and dentists on diverse oral health topics. It transforms the nature and speed of healthcare interactions by overcoming traditional barriers to healthcare access and support.1 Social media also aids in smoking cessation efforts, particularly in patients benefiting from tailored content. They experienced fewer relapses and made more quit attempts.

Teaching facilities, hospitals and clinics are now using social media to reach new patients, promote their services, and educate the public about oral health. Oral healthcare organisations use social media to spread relevant information, promote educational resources, and advocate for evidence-based medicine.2

Personalised mobile applications and games

Mobile phones, with their widespread usage, offer a promising platform for delivering low-cost health promotion apps. These apps are revolutionising healthcare for patients, playing roles in patient education, data monitoring, symptom management, management of chronic disease and behaviour modification.3 Personalised oral health apps engage users with oral hygiene alerts and reminders, oral health educational content, tracking of oral health behaviours and tracking of dental appointments.

Mobile applications were found to be instigating both immediate and sustained self-reported behaviour change. This causes a massive impact on cognitive behaviour. This in turn may enable lifestyle modifications like tobacco cessation, limiting sugar consumption, increasing oral hygiene compliance, and using preventive fluoride therapy.3,4 Oral health promotion video games show improved dietary knowledge and tooth brushing habits among children. It also enhanced the parental familiarity with fluoride varnish.7

Artificial intelligence (AI)

AI in healthcare has the ability to provide personalised health information through Chatbots. It analyses patient data from medical and dental histories. It can then provide patients with customised recommendations for maintaining good oral health. The combination of AI and tele-dentistry in future will allow for remote AI consultations. This enables patients to receive AI-driven assessments from the comfort of their homes. This increases accessibility to oral healthcare services, particularly in remote areas. AI-driven virtual assistants can be used for appointment scheduling, reminders, and follow-up communications with patients.9

Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR)

Virtual reality (VR) and Augmented reality (AR) are powerful tools in patient preparation, distraction, information and oral health education. VR are often used to manage dental anxiety which is especially common among children. To alleviate anxiety, optimal distraction could be achieved from a multisensory experience of VR. It can serve as an effective non-pharmacologic analgesic for dental pain. The other advantage of VR is the patient’s inability to see the dental practitioner and instruments.

By incorporating games or educational interfaces, VR and AR can make learning more enjoyable and effective. VR games can provide visual feedback to correct brushing techniques, improving patient understanding and compliance. In dentist-patient communication, these tools aid in the diagnosis, treatment planning, and visualisation of potential prosthetic treatments. VR enables clinicians to showcase the anticipated clinical results to patients through a complete virtual simulation. On the other hand, AR devices can generate a 3D model that can be directly inserted into the patient's mouth, offering 3D visualisation for aesthetic planning.6

Wearable oral devices 

Wearable oral sensors with zinc oxide quantum dots/poly(dimethylsiloxane) (ZnO/PDMS) nanocomposites detect volatile sulphur compounds (VSCs) released by dental caries. They aid in the early detection of hidden caries. Smart orthodontic brackets and aligners with integrated stress sensors accurately measure forces applied to teeth. This reduces the risks of treatment complications and aids in treatment optimization. Implantable dental sensors are used for peri-implant disease monitoring and to enhance implant success and longevity. 

Oral wearable sensors offer real-time monitoring of salivary pH, glucose, uric acid, lactate, and microorganisms. Oral wearable diet sensors track various aspects of dietary habits, including food type, nutritional composition, portion size, and meal frequency. This helps patients to access personalised dietary guidance, cultivate healthier eating patterns, and enhance overall well-being.8

Disadvantages of digital technologies

Digital technologies in oral health education and patient engagement come with a few disadvantages. Patients may become overwhelmed by the abundance of online resources and conflicting advice. This can lead to confusion and uncertainty about the best oral health practices. Additionally, not everyone has equal access to digital tools and resources. This may exclude certain populations from benefiting fully from digital education and engagement. Over-reliance on digital technologies can sometimes affect the patient-provider relationship. It may reduce the opportunity for meaningful face-to-face interactions and personalised care. With misinformation and pseudoscience easily spreading on the internet, it may potentially lead to misguided self-diagnosis and treatment choices. 


Digital technologies offer promising avenues for oral health education and patient engagement. From educating patients to facilitating patient engagement and improving treatment outcomes, digital tools play an important role in modern dentistry. But careful consideration of their limitations is essential to maximise their effectiveness and ensure equitable access to quality oral healthcare for all.


  1. Camerlingo C. European Review [Internet]. 2022. Scoping review on the role of social media in oral health promotion; [cited 2024 May 12]. Available from:
  2. Chirumamilla S, Gulati M. Patient Education and Engagement through Social Media. Curr Cardiol Rev [Internet]. 2021 [cited 2024 May 12]; 17(2):137–43. Available from:
  3. Cunningham A, McPolin O, Fallis R, Coyle C, Best P, McKenna G. A systematic review of the use of virtual reality or dental smartphone applications as interventions for management of paediatric dental anxiety. BMC Oral Health [Internet]. 2021 [cited 2024 May 12]; 21(1):244. Available from:
  4. Tiffany B, Blasi P, Catz SL, McClure JB. Mobile Apps for Oral Health Promotion: Content Review and Heuristic Usability Analysis. JMIR Mhealth Uhealth [Internet]. 2018 [cited 2024 May 12]; 6(9):e11432. Available from:
  5. Sharma S, Mohanty V, Balappanavar AY, Chahar P, Rijhwani K. Role of Digital Media in Promoting Oral Health: A Systematic Review. Cureus [Internet]. [cited 2024 May 12]; 14(9):e28893. Available from:
  6. Monterubbianesi R, Tosco V, Vitiello F, Orilisi G, Fraccastoro F, Putignano A, et al. Augmented, Virtual and Mixed Reality in Dentistry: A Narrative Review on the Existing Platforms and Future Challenges. Applied Sciences [Internet]. 2022 [cited 2024 May 12]; 12(2):877. Available from:
  7. Aljafari A, Rice C, Gallagher JE, Hosey MT. An oral health education video game for high caries risk children: study protocol for a randomised controlled trial. Trials [Internet]. 2015 [cited 2024 May 12]; 16(1):237. Available from:
  8. Li Y, Tang H, Liu Y, Qiao Y, Xia H, Zhou J. Oral wearable sensors: Health management based on the oral cavity. Biosensors and Bioelectronics: X [Internet]. 2022 [cited 2024 May 13]; 10:100135. Available from:
  9. Dave M, Patel N. Artificial intelligence in healthcare and education. Br Dent J [Internet]. 2023 [cited 2024 May 13]; 234(10):761–4. Available from:

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This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Nirainila Antony Joseph

Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS), Tamil Nadu Government Dental College and Hospital, India

Master of Science (MS), Institute of Oral Medicine, National Cheng Kung University, Taiwan

Dr. Nirainila is a general dentist with extensive experience in comprehensive dental care and patient education. She is also a dedicated researcher focusing on dental aerosols, investigating their implications and control strategies within dental settings. Alongside her clinical and research endeavors, she is a medical content writer who simplifies complex medical information into reader-friendly articles, making health education accessible to a broader audience. presents all health information in line with our terms and conditions. It is essential to understand that the medical information available on our platform is not intended to substitute the relationship between a patient and their physician or doctor, as well as any medical guidance they offer. Always consult with a healthcare professional before making any decisions based on the information found on our website.
Klarity is a citizen-centric health data management platform that enables citizens to securely access, control and share their own health data. Klarity Health Library aims to provide clear and evidence-based health and wellness related informative articles. 
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