Dental patients turn to Twitter

Researchers have discovered that patients with dental pain have been turning to Twitter for advice.

The microblogging site is becoming a new means for dental professionals to communicate with patients.

In a study entitled ‘Public Health Surveillance of Dental Pain via Twitter’, published in the Journal of Dental Research, researchers demonstrated that Twitter users are extensively sharing their experiences of toothache and seeking advice from other users.

The researchers investigated the content of Twitter posts meeting search criteria relating to dental pain.

A set of 1,000 tweets was randomly selected from 4,859 tweets over seven non-consecutive days.

The content was coded using pre-established, non-mutually exclusive categories, including the experience of dental pain, actions taken or contemplated in response to a toothache, impact on daily life and advice sought from the Twitter community.

After excluding ambiguous tweets, spam and repeat users, 772 tweets were analysed and frequencies calculated. Of those tweets, 83% were primarily categorised as a general statement of dental pain, 22% as an action taken or contemplated, and 15% as describing an impact on daily activities.

Among the actions taken or contemplated, 44% reported seeing a dentist, 43% took an analgesic or antibiotic medication and 14% actively sought advice from the Twitter community.

With this change in communication and information sharing, have you joined the Twitter revolution?

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