How Hygienists Can Counter Dental Misinformation and Unsafe Products Through Social Media

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Moving the profession forward and educating along the way is fundamental to improving oral health care practices over the next several generations. It’s time to focus on building a global community and raising awareness about oral health conditions and cost-effective oral care practices.

Dental hygiene practitioners are in the driver’s seat of oral hygiene instruction and are influential in our delivery and methodology. Some may even refer to us as the prevention pioneers of new-age dentistry.

As dental assistants, dental hygienists, and dentists, let us take advantage of the position and the educational merit we have obtained. As leaders in our field and advocates, we have platforms, governing bodies, and associations readily accessible to lean on.

We live in a digital world where young children, teens, and even adults are heavily influenced by social media and what they see online. This wasn’t common in the times some of us grew up. Today’s youth are directly impacted and are making day-to-day and life-altering decisions, sometimes fueled by social media platforms and influencers. Unfortunately, not all the information they come across about dentistry is accurate or marketed correctly.

Product marketing can sometimes leave you feeling agitated as the delivery is occasionally unsafe or non-evidence-based. This often comes from products that dental professionals would not stand behind or support. These products would also most likely not be in dental offices, at dental conferences, or any event supporting dental professionals, making them disconnected from dentistry.

It’s easy for someone to pick up a product and advise the viewer or reader on social media of its pros and cons but not actually know anything about the product or the science behind it. So, it’s time for dental hygienists to collectively debunk products that don’t serve a purpose, have no efficacy, or put our youth, who are especially vulnerable, at risk for dental and health complications, whether mild or severe.

Actionable Steps Against Misinformation

How often have you opened your social media account only to scroll down and see an ad for an abysmal whitening product or dental adjunct that isn’t regulated or individuals offering services from their homes with no dental knowledge or background? Scary, I’d say. It’s time to get vocal and voice your opinions about these misinformed videos and general services being rendered without any dental training or knowledge about the oral cavity.

Vocalize your opinions and utilize your platforms as professionals to advise people in your community or friends circle of the risks associated with using products not regulated or supported by dental professionals. This comes alongside services and dental treatment being administered by individuals without a professional dental license.

Let’s get into educational facilities and enrich the growing population and the youth on the importance of seeking professional care. Volunteer and speak to community leaders to get programs running in order to provide access to information and care. Let’s begin educating underprivileged groups at an early age and host information nights so that we don’t have a victimized group of youth that grow up to believe that any product available or seen on social media is safe and warranted for their oral health care.

We won’t target specific companies or brands, but we are all very well-informed about them. I often catch myself wanting to comment or refrain from engaging with these companies as I never knew if one voice mattered. However, if we can collectively fact-check these companies to ensure the evidence-based efficacy and safety of their products and debunk them, if necessary, we will only become stronger as a community.

In Closing

As dental professionals, we are taught that we have many pathways available to us, whether it be clinicians, educators, administrators, or even advocates. In this case, advocacy plays a very important role during the digital era, or “the Instagram era,” as some refer to it. Take the liberty to share evidence-based products and information on your platforms and discredit products you would not use in your personal oral care routine.

Again, this isn’t only about refuting products we don’t agree with. This is about taking back dentistry and products that dental providers should solely administer or recommend. Let’s educate, guide, and advocate!

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