Establishing a Provider-Observer Tool to Assess Oral Hygiene Skills in HIV+ Adults

Sponsor: Investigator-Initiated

Project Period:

Current Status: Recruiting


Poor oral health can be especially detrimental in adults with HIV/AIDS, as it can interfere with HAART compliance, reduce nutritional intake, lower self-esteem and diminish quality of life, and thus, negatively impact both physical and mental health. Without oral health, one cannot have overall health and well-being.

Meticulous dental plaque control is a well-established method to lower the risk for periodontal disease and its progression and can improve oral health outcomes in HIV+ adults. Oral health self-care depends on behavior. In dentistry, the study of behavior change is in its infancy; greater methodological rigor is required to move this field forward. HIV+ adults can serve as a prototype high-risk group, singe effective approaches to improve oral health in HIV+ adults could be applied to other populations.

This project seeks to develop a program of research that will establish the effectiveness of prevention-based oral health coaching. Short-term endpoints include the development of a measure of oral hygiene skill (OHSIM) that is deemed reliable and valid. 

Preliminary Data

Since 2004, Dr. Vernon and his team have successfully completed two NIDCR-funded longitudinal studies. Both studies examined the link between periodontal disease and cardiovascular disease in HIV+ adults. In 2009, the team reported on a high level and extent of periodontal disease in HIV+ adults, and explained in detail potential methodological biases of prior studies reporting lower levels of periodontal disease in HIV+ adult cohorts. In 2011, they reported a clinically and statistically significant longitudinal association between the increase in a microbial measure of periodontal disease and the increase in carotid artery intima media thickness (IMT), a marker of cardiovascular disease risk.

Project Team

Robert Asaad, MD (Co-Investigator) – Division of Infectious Diseases and HIV Medicine

Kathryn Clark, CCRP (Study Coordinator)

Catherine Demko, PhD (Co-Investigator) – Department of Community Dentistry

Jason Seacat, PhD – Western New England University, Psychology

Lance Vernon, DMD, MPH (Principal Investigator) – Department of Pediatric Dentistry

Stephen Zyzanski, PhD – Department of Family Medicine