Mrs Zhanna Gaulen

Zhanna Gaulen, MPhil, holds a master’s degree in Health Promotion. She is a second-year Ph.D. candidate at the University of Bergen, Norway and works in the Research section of the Department of Addiction Medicine, Haukeland University Hospital in Bergen. She has published in peer reviewed journals on health and social issues among older patients in opioid maintenance treatment and on recovery strategies for youth with substance use disorder in Norway. Her research focuses specifically on quality of life and well-being among individuals with opioid dependence. Currently, she is interested in motivation for treatment and the effect of a treatment intervention with extended-release naltrexone versus buprenorphine-naloxone on self-reported quality of life. Also, other research interests include the influence of oral health on quality of life among opioid dependent individuals.

Perceived impacts of dental problems and hygiene behaviors among people receiving opioid maintenance treatment

Aims The main objectives of our study were to map out oral health related behaviors and perceived oral impacts (aspects of self-assessed oral health) of the individuals in opioid maintenance treatment (OMT).

Design A cross-sectional study.

Setting Data collected from December 2017 to February 2018 in six OMT outpatient clinics.

Participants 162 participants were included in the study.

Measurements People were assessed with a structured questionnaire including questions on oral hygiene behaviors, use of dental services and perceived impacts of oral problems.

Findings Half of the participants reported dental attendance every other year or less. The main reasons for the last dental visit were tooth pain (29%) and follow up (31%). Many patients did not go more often for having fear of dentist (41%) and former negative experiences (20%). As much as 91% smoked daily and 79% thought that using drugs affected their dental health. Majority (61%) of participants reported drinking beverages with sugar every day, once a day or more. Most of the participants (85%) brushed their teeth daily but 60% felt embarrassed of their teeth, irritable and did not enjoy being with other people due to their oral health.

Conclusions The oral health related morbidity was substantial in the OMT context. Even though patients partially took care of their teeth (brushing daily), there were other factors that may have contributed to dental problems: lifestyle (drugs, smoking, sugar) and psychological (fear, stigmatization). Social life also had been influenced by the appearance. There are various challenges we face to improve the oral health of individuals in OMT.


Ferda Gülcan, Associate Professor, Department of Clinical Dentistry, University of Bergen
Anne Nordrehaug Aostrøm, Professor, PhD, Department of Clinical Dentistry, University of Bergen
Sarah Ahamath, dental hygienist, Department of Clinical Dentistry, University of Bergen
Mette Håpoldoyy Jacobsen, dental hygienist, Department of Clinical Dentistry, University of Bergen
Lars T. Fadnes, Associate Professor, Department of Global Public Health and Primary Care

Conflicts of interest:

No conflict of interest

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