Background: This randomized, single-blinded, controlled study compares the effectiveness of two modes of delivering the same set of oral hygiene instructions: those loaded on a computer-assisted teaching format versus those given personally by a self-care instructor. Methods: 60 participants with mild to moderate periodontitis were randomized to either the computer-teaching format or the self-care instructor. Plaque score and bleeding indices were assessed at baseline and at 4 week re-evaluation to compare the instructional modalities. Results: At baseline, there was no difference in the parameters between the two groups. At re-evaluation, all parameters were significantly improved compared to baseline; however, there was no difference between any parameters in the computer group versus the instructor. Plaque score was significantly different between younger and older participants, such that participants under 50 years old had lower plaque scores when they received instructions using the computer format (72.5 ± 12.6 vs. 87.2 ± 10.4; p
< 0.001). Additionally, in those under-50 year olds, plaque scores were significantly better in the group using the computer format (87.2 ± 10.4 vs. 78.3 ± 15.6; p
= 0.03). Conclusion: Computer teaching formats and self-care instructors are both effective means of communicating oral hygiene instructions. Computer-assisted instruction format effectiveness may amplify as the population ages. Applications of computer formats teaching oral hygiene instructions and cost effectiveness comparison studies warrant significant future investigation.
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