YouTube is probably not the best source of information for learning how to manage dental trauma, according to a study published on October 13. Researchers from the U.K. analyzed 120 videos and found that YouTube is much better for seeing people knock their teeth out than educating the public about how to manage an avulsed tooth.
While YouTube was once known for its short videos and vlogs, the website is becoming an increasingly popular source of health information. Researchers evaluated how well videos on the platform aligned with the International Association of Dental Traumatology (IADT) recommendations for treating avulsed teeth, and the results were not promising.
"Overall, the content of YouTube on avulsion was variable," wrote the authors, led by Clare Hutchison, a dental core trainee at Glasgow Dental Hospital and School (Dental Traumatology, October 13, 2019). "All videos failed to reflect all nine points depicted in the IADT guidance."
Previous studies have evaluated the quality of YouTube videos for other health conditions but not specifically for the management of avulsed teeth. Because YouTube is becoming an increasingly frequented source of health information, the researchers wondered whether the videos would provide helpful or misleading information.
To find out, they used Google to identify frequently used search terms related to avulsion. They then watched the first 60 YouTube videos for the two most popular terms, "knocked out tooth" and "dental avulsion." The videos were given one point for each IADT recommendation mentioned.
Out of the 120 videos included in the study, 87% were excluded for not having relevant information. The vast majority of excluded videos showed people suffering from dental trauma, which the authors described as "sophomoric content."
None of the remaining 13 videos mentioned all nine of the IADT recommendations for managing an avulsed tooth. Most discussed the importance of seeking urgent dental care and storing an avulsed tooth in an appropriate medium, such as milk. However, nearly one-third of videos also suggested storing an avulsed tooth in water, which is not nearly as effective.
The researchers noted that their findings were limited to the two most popular search terms, so the study did not include information related to avulsions, such as splinting, prevention, and long-term prognosis. Nevertheless, YouTube does not appear to be an adequate source of information for patients dealing with a knocked-out tooth.
"YouTube provides low-value content videos in regard to avulsion management, so it should not be used as a trusted source for educating patients and parents about the management of avulsion," the authors concluded.