Paradigm shift

Posted by watchmen
May 30, 2024

By Dr. Joseph Lim

Dr. Shristy Sharma is a public health dentist at the Maulana Azad Institute of Dental Sciencesin New Delhi, India.

A public health dentist is a dental professional, a specialist whose expertise is on population-based dentistry instead of on treating an individual patient one at a time.

They usually have a Doctorate of Public Health or advanced degrees that qualifies them to assess key dental health needs and come up with solutions to improve the dental health of populations rather than individuals.

In a study published, Dr. Sharma points to a paradigm shift in the way information on oral health is promoted to the public.

It involves networks of smart medical devices, smartphonesor mobile personal computing and communication devices. It reinforces experimental learning, which is the process of learning by doing, Dr. Sharma explains.

A paradigm shift is a profound change in the way things are done and/or seen. It is a term popularized by American physicist and philosopher Thomas Kuhn who introduced the concept in the philosophy of science. It has since been used to describe deep changes in the everyday.

The paradigm shift is already happening in oral health care, Dr. Sharma says. Digital applications are already being used, ranging from toothbrush timers, online tips for better oral hygiene, oral hygiene alert and reminders, tracking of oral health behaviors, tracking of dental appointments — all in real or near-real time at the tip of the digital touch.

It has been used in the management of chronic diseases, in school health programsand other activities such as physical exercise, substance abuse, mental illness, dietary behavior, and breastfeeding. They have been evaluated and found effective in promoting health care for those who seek information and for those who practice self-care.

Dr. Sharma has made a systematic review evaluating the effectiveness of digital media in oral health promotion.

“The findings reveal that there is a wide variety of interventions addressing populations of any age,” she says.

“This diversity broadens the horizon of oral health services, which significantly can aid in reducing the oral health burden on society.”

Due to the rapid rise in mobile phone usage over the past decade, digital media has become a popular platform for behavior modifications in health care, she says.

Digital media can increase the early reporting of dental diseases, increase oral health knowledge, attitudeand practices, and positive behavior change toward oral health practices with diet modifications, Dr. Sharma says.

Using various digitalized interventions led to an increase in the oral hygiene status of study participants with a significant decrease in, for example, plaque or gum issues.

Interactive sessions have significantly raised the level of compliance with the therapy provided by dentists.

“This has created a huge impact on preventive practices and continuity of care,” Dr. Sharma says.

Tailor-made, customized interventions using interactive methods and text messages have minimized barriers to oral health awareness and improved parents’ understanding of their child’s oral health.

Digital media like videos and text messages and mobile applications results in immediate and sustained behavior change, “thus causing a gigantic impact on cognitive behavior,” Dr. Sharma says.

“This cognitive behavior change may enable lifestyle modifications like quitting tobacco, decreasing sugar consumption, increasing oral hygiene compliance, and using fluoride therapy.”

“Although digital media has the capacity to improve efficiencies and coverage, the technology itself does not guarantee success,” Dr. Sharma cautions.

Still, she says that based on the results observed, “it can be concluded that digital media usage in today’s life can help us to enhance oral health literacy, improve oral healthand thus play a pivotal role in achieving overall health.”


Dr. Joseph D. Lim, Ed. D., is the former Associate Dean of the College of Dentistry, University of the East; former Dean, College of Dentistry, National University; Past President and Honorary Fellow of the Asian Oral Implant Academy; Honorary Fellow of the Japan College of Oral Implantologists;Honorary Life Member of the Thai Association of Dental Implantology; and Founding Chairman of the Philippine College of Oral Implantologists. For questions on dental health, e-mail or text 0917-8591515.


Dr. Kenneth Lester Lim, BS-MMG, DDM, MSc-OI, graduated Doctor of Dental Medicine, University of the Philippines, College of Dentistry, Manila, 2011; Bachelor of Science in Marketing Management, De la Salle University, Manila, 2002; and Master of Science (MSc.) in Oral Implantology, Goethe University, Frankfurt, Germany, 2019. He is an Associate Professor; Fellow, International Congress of Oral Implantologists; Member, American Academy of Implant Dentistry and Fellow, Philippine College of Oral Implantologists. For questions on dental health, e-mail

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