Changing clinical practice carries some unique challenges. Recognition of this has, in turn, stimulated research in the area to provide further guidance on managing change in clinical work settings. Change management theory suggests that successful transformation is a result of the interaction between the content of change (objectives), the context of change (environment), and the process of change (implementation plan), and incorporates identification of barriers as a key element contributing to successful change. The implementation of behavior change principles in the dental practice will be discussed within this framework of headings: content (objectives), context (environment), process (implementation plan), and barriers. Most clinicians will be aware that the promotion of health behavior changes with the patients in their care may provide a range of benefits — increased success of treatment outcomes, decreased incidence of disease, increased confidence for both patient and clinician. Increasingly, as a growing percentage of the population are diagnosed with health decline that is often associated with “ lifestyle ” behaviors, the health professional is often required to have a dual focus — control of current disease while facilitating continuous self management as part of an effective long - term solution. Oral health professionals are not exempt from this approach to patient care as we continue our efforts to manage disease and support health behavior change. The move from treating the disease (extraction, restoration, and gingivectomy) to minimally invasive dentistry and core preventive modalities reflects the impact of the growing change of focus in oral health care. More and more, we understand that regular, effective oral hygiene measures, cessation of tobacco use, management of alcohol consumption, and dietary control can contribute significantly to the reduction of risk for the development of diseases such as dental caries, periodontal disease, and oral cancer. All of these elements may be within the capabilities of a positive union of professional support and continuous self - management by the patient. The clinical encounter provides an opportunity for clinicians to develop a supportive, professional relationship that engages the patient in a dialogue about possible changes in health behaviors. This opportunity is often under - utilized. While some clinicians may find that applying health behavior change strategies or approaches is easy and natural, for others it may be more difficult. They may be more comfortable with the “traditional” role of the health professional as the expert provider of knowledge and advice to the patient. Indeed, the patient may also be accustomed to the role of “being told what to do” without complete understanding of why or indeed how to achieve the expectations of the clinician.

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