OBJECTIVES: Toothbrushing and interdental cleaning are critical to maintaining good oral health . Literature is beginning to suggest that these behaviours may be conducted automatically, although the instigation (deciding to do) and execution ('doing') of these behaviours has never been examined separately . The objective of this study was to test a theoretically informed supposition that oral hygiene behaviours in adults are automatic behaviours .
METHODS: One hundred and fifty participants attending three types of dental providers covering emergency and routine dental services, completed a questionnaire . The self-reported behavioural automaticity index scale (SRBAI) was used to measure behavioural automaticity .
RESULTS: Morning toothbrushing SRBAI scores were higher than evening scores (Z=-3.315, p = 0.001). Automaticity scores for instigating both toothbrushing and interdental cleaning were also higher compared to execution (toothbrushing: Z=-2.601, p = 0.009 and interdental cleaning: Z=-2.256 . p = 0.024). Toothbrushing automaticity scores were associated with age, gender and self-efficacy, whereas interdental cleaning automaticity scores were associated with intention . Individuals in lower socio-economic status (SES) occupations had significantly higher automaticity scores for interdental cleaning compared to those with higher SES roles .
CONCLUSIONS: A high proportion of people undertake toothbrushing and interdental cleaning automatically, especially in relation to embarking on these behaviours . This is most pronounced in morning toothbrushing.