The Danger of Internet Dentistry Searches
Do you find yourself constantly searching the internet for information about your dental health? If so, you may have fallen victim to a recent trend called cyberchondria. Relying solely on the internet for dental information can be dangerous and lead to misinformation and misdiagnosis. While the internet can be a helpful tool for research, it’s crucial to understand that not all sources are reliable. For every credible dental site, there are dozens of unreliable ones with inaccurate information.
In addition, the internet is challenging to navigate and prone to uplifting dramatic misinformation rather than boring yet accurate truths. Unlike medical journals, dental journals aren’t readily accessible to the general public, meaning that most of the information out there about dental issues isn’t vetted and is often outdated. Even if you find dental journals online, the information takes a while to understand and process. As a result, the chances of misunderstanding an article’s conclusions are high. And this is for someone looking at some of the best online sources.
Unfortunately, many people are not even going that far. A 2018 study found that 40% of the most shared health-related articles on social media contained significant misinformation. In particular, the researchers found that misinformation that contained anecdotal stories and fake reports meant to ‘shock the reader’ was the most common type of misinformation shared. These are some of the most dangerous types of misinformation.
If, in the end, you do feel the need to do some research, a few good resources are: WebMD’s Oral Health section, MedlinePlus, and the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research.
Many patients want to research their symptoms on the internet first to communicate them better with medical professionals. This should be a good thing, but it has led to a couple of problems. First, many patients find themselves unduly anxious about their symptoms from their searches, finding information online that implies a more serious and rare condition. The second is that some patients believe their research is better than their healthcare professional’s diagnosis, which can lead to delaying or refusing treatment.
It’s a tricky situation because sometimes healthcare professionals do make mistakes. However, it is best to get a second opinion from another dentist if you are worried rather than fall down an internet rabbit hole of misinformation.
We’ve seen many patients come in with preconceived notions of what their symptoms mean, only to find out that they’re misinformed. Some even come in with anxiety and panic because of the horror stories they’ve read online.
At Tenafly Dental Associates we take pride in providing a trusted source of dental information for our patients. We believe in personalized dentistry for each patient because every individual’s oral health is unique. We can help with any ‘search’ you may have been thinking of, from teeth and gum health, whitening, Invisalign, grinding, snoring, pain, crowns, veneers, and more. Please, feel free to call, email, or visit us in person to get professional advice. We’ll find the best way forward, together.