Uw titel 

Mission: Adressing Knowledge Gaps in Oral Health Interventions

The role of automatic processes in oral hygiene has so far been mostly neglected in oral health care interventions. To address this gap, we will investigate ‘habit-based interventions’ to support behavior change.

In the ORAhabit project, the faculties of Dentistry and Social and Behavioural Sciences at the University of Amsterdam (UvA) combine their knowledge to translate insights from health psychology on behavior change and automatic processes towards the domain of oral health to eventually improve oral hygiene intervention programs. Specifically, we aim to develop effective and efficient habit-based interventions (for different socioeconomic groups) to support sustainable oral health-related routines, reflected not just in longer-term adherence and automatization, but also in oral health outcome measures.

Principal investigators

Dr. Sanne de Wit
Associate Professor Clinical Psychology and PI of HabitLab (www.habitlab.nl), Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)

Dr. Catherine M.C. Volgenant
Associate Professor Preventive Dentistry & Cariology, Faculty of Dentistry (ACTA)


Oral diseases are the most prevalent diseases worldwide and a global public health challenge with a large behavioral component: daily oral hygiene to remove dental plaque together with the use of fluoridated products is key to preventing oral diseases. Indeed, how to change behavior is one of the most pressing research questions according to health professionals and patients in the Dutch Oral Health Knowledge Agenda.

Behavioral oral hygiene programs are primarily ‘intention-based', i.e., focused on supporting goal-directed performance by positively influencing people’s beliefs and attitudes about toothbrushing through education, and by bolstering motivation through motivational interviewing. However, oral disease prevention requires daily performance of dental hygiene routines. According to dual-process theories, these routines initially depend on effortful, goal-directed control, but with repetition can become efficient habits. Increasingly, health psychologists acknowledge the importance of habit formation for sustained performance of repeated actions. However, so far there has been relatively little research into habits in the oral health domain.

Further information / joining the ORAHabit project

Our seed project is supported by the Theme-based Collaboration programme ‘Healthy Future’ of the UvA. We aim to build a consortium to apply for follow-up funding. If you are a researcher or stakeholder who is interested in becoming involved in this project, send us a message below.