We tested the hypothesis that a psychosocial dental intervention formulated in terms of self-determination theory would increase
patients’ perceived competence and autonomous motivation for dental care and would decrease their plaque and gingivitis over
a seven month period, compared to standard dental treatment. We also tested a process model in which the intervention was
expected to increase perceived dental competence and autonomous motivation, that they would be positively associated with
oral health behaviors (i.e., brushing and flossing), which was expected to decrease plaque and, in turn, decrease gingivitis.
We also examined whether: changes in perceived competence and autonomous motivation would mediate the effect of the intervention
on dental-health behaviors; dental-health behaviors would mediate the links from changes in perceived competence and autonomous
motivation to change in plaque; and change in plaque would mediate the relation of dental health behaviors to change in gingivitis.
Finally, we examined the fit of the overall model with structural equation modelling. Results supported all predictions.
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