Research summary : The availability and characteristics of patient-focused YouTube videos related to oral hygiene instruction

A summary of: Smyth, R., Amlani, M., Fulton, A. et al. The availability and characteristics of patient-focused YouTube videos related to oral hygiene instruction. Br Dent J 228, 773–781 (2020).

With dental caries and periodontal disease still being prevalent within the UK, preventative interventions have been and are effective in reducing incidence of disease. Preventative healthcare advice has been offered through verbal and written means in the past however in 2010, 50% of American adults reported using the internet to supplement their healthcare knowledge in the previous 12 months and in Europe, a 2014 report found 60% of adults had looked up health information online. With the use of the internet becoming more popular, this raises concerns about the quality and validity of such online resources.  

The aim of this paper was to assess the availability, quality and accuracy of YouTube videos made for patients relating to oral hygiene instruction.  

A total of 52 YouTube videos were selected using appropriate search terms, the videos first selected (300) were narrowed down using pre-set inclusion and exclusion criteria. The quality of these videos was then assessed using an eight-item, evidence -based checklist to assess the accuracy of the information delivered regarding prevention of caries and periodontal disease.  

Eight-Item checklist: 

  • Item 1-Brush teeth for at least two minutes with fluoridated toothpaste 
  • Item 2-Brush at least twice a day 
  • Item 3-Brush last thing at night and at least on one other occasion 
  • Item 4-Use pea-size amount (smear of toothpaste for children up to three years of age) of fluoridated toothpaste (1,350-1,500 ppm fluoride) 
  • Item 5-Spit out after brushing and do not rinse to maintain fluoride concentration levels 
  • Item 6-Use fluoride-containing mouth rinse daily (0.05% NaF) at a different time to brushing (indicated in high-caries-risk individuals) 
  • Item 7-Small toothbrush head of medium texture 
  • Item 8-For small spaces between teeth, use dental floss; for larger spaces, use interdental or single-tufted brushes 

Each item was then scored for accuracy using a 4-point scale: 

The results showed: 

  • The majority of videos were produced by laypeople (n = 20) and there were no videos produced by a hospital/university. 
  • None of the included videos contained accurate information relating to all eight items of the evidence-based checklist for the prevention of caries and periodontal disease. 
  • Seven videos contained none of the information listed on the checklist. 
  • Where a YouTube account contained more than one video, including those that were not focused on oral health, it was found that the oral healthcare videos had significantly fewer views than other non-dentally focused videos. 
  • An overwhelming number of videos did not contain all of the information detailed on the evidence-based checklist for prevention of caries and periodontal disease. 
  • There were videos that contained incorrect/inaccurate/potentially harmful information.  

However, the checklist used to assess the knowledge was focused on oral hygiene information given in the UK whereas some of the identified videos may not have been targeted at a UK audience, which could create some discrepancies. It’s also important to note that no standardised tool was widely available/recognised when evaluating quality assessment tools specific to YouTube videos. This research also only assessed videos posted in late 2019, whereas the number of available videos increase overtime. With this being said, it was found that the number of YouTube videos pertaining to oral hygiene instruction was decreasing perhaps due to rise of other social media.  

To conclude, current YouTube videos regarding oral hygiene instruction may not contain evidence-based information. There is also a lack of regulation and quality assurance with health-care related videos and dental professionals are therefore encouraged to assess any YouTube video they may recommend to patients.  

Hibah Abrar  

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