University of Oulu

Väyrynen, E., Hakola, S., Keski-Salmi, A., Jämsä, H., Vainionpää, R., & Karki, S. (2023). The use of patient-oriented mobile phone apps in oral health: Scoping review. JMIR mHealth and uHealth, 11, e46143.

The use of patient-oriented mobile phone apps in oral health : scoping review

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Author: Väyrynen, Elina1; Hakola, Sanna1; Keski-Salmi, Anniina1;
Organizations: 1Research Unit of Population Health, Faculty of Medicine, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.6 MB)
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: JMIR Publications, 2023
Publish Date: 2023-10-24


Background: Oral health is a significant part of general health. Poor oral health can influence an individual’s appearance, self-esteem, eating, and speaking. The use of mobile phone apps has been growing in the field of medicine, including dentistry. However, to date, there is no evidence related to the availability of mobile apps focusing on various branches of dentistry.

Objective: The aim of this study was to review the scientific literature on the use of patient-oriented mobile phone apps in oral health and summarize the key findings.

Methods: A scoping review of published scientific literature on the use of patient-oriented mobile phone apps in oral health was conducted in accordance with the Joanna Briggs Institute. A search was performed in PubMed and Scopus for studies published between January 2000 and June 2021 that were written in English. All study types except for those reporting developmental protocols were included in this review. In total, 2 reviewers independently screened the studies using the eligibility criteria. The study protocol was registered in the Open Science Framework registries in June 2021.

Results: The initial search yielded a total of 977 studies, 45 (4.6%) of which met the inclusion criteria. All the studies (45/45, 100%) were published after 2009. Most studies (31/45, 69%) concerned oral health promotion using mobile phone apps, followed by behavior management (5/45, 11%). More than half (23/45, 51%) of the included studies were conducted in Asian countries. Overall, 31% (14/45) of the studies focused on adolescents. A total of 51% (23/45) of the studies were randomized controlled trials (RCTs). Approximately 39% (9/23) of the included RCT studies reported a substantial reduction in dental plaque, and 26% (6/23) of the studies reported significant improvement in gingival health. Regarding dental anxiety management, 13% (3/23) of the RCT studies reported a significant decrease in mean heart rate and lower Facial Image Scale scores.

Conclusions: According to the literature, the use of mobile apps in oral health is increasing among patients, mainly children and adolescents. Many studies that have used mobile apps have focused on promoting oral health. However, other areas such as diagnostic and remote consultations (teledentistry) have until recently been neglected despite their great potential.

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Series: JMIR mHealth and uHealth
ISSN: 2291-5222
ISSN-E: 2291-5222
ISSN-L: 2291-5222
Volume: 11
Article number: e46143
DOI: 10.2196/46143
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 313 Dentistry
Funding: The European Regional Development Fund (project: digileap of oral health toward virtual reception; A76934) is gratefully acknowledged for supporting this work. AK-S and SK received a research grant from the Finnish Dental Society Apollonia to conduct this research.
Copyright information: © Elina Väyrynen, Sanna Hakola, Anniina Keski-Salmi, Hannaleena Jämsä, Raija Vainionpää, Saujanya Karki. Originally published in JMIR mHealth and uHealth (, 06.09.2023. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work, first published in JMIR mHealth and uHealth, is properly cited. The complete bibliographic information, a link to the original publication on, as well as this copyright and license information must be included.