Association of dental caries with use of internet and social media among 12 and 15-year-olds

Deena Almoddahi, Carolina Machuca Vargas, Wael Sabbah

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Abstract

Objectives: To investigate the association of dental caries with use of internet and social media to gain information on oral health and to evaluate the impact of this practice on oral health inequalities among 12 and 15-year-olds.

Methods: Data from the Children’s Dental Health Survey (CDHS) 2013, England Wales and Northern Ireland were used. The survey included sociodemographic, health behaviours, use of internet and social media, and clinical dental data. The association between the prevalence of caries experience (DMFT ≥ 1) and the number of untreated dental decay with use of internet and social media was assessed adjusting for age, gender, country, deprivation, toothbrushing, dental visits and consumption of sugary drinks and food.

Results: A total of 4414 children were included in the analysis. Children who reported using internet and social media to gain information on oral health had significantly higher odds for caries experience (1.29, 95%CI: 1.03–1.62) in the model adjusting for age, gender and country. After adjusting for behavioural and socioeconomic factors the relationship remained positive, but not statistically significant. The use of internet and social media was not significantly associated with the number of untreated caries. Social gradients in oral health remained significant after adjusting for use of internet and social media.

Conclusions: The association between use of internet and social media, and dental caries could be mediated by health behaviours. Younger adults and children may be using the Internet and social media seeking information on dental caries, but longer online hours may also increase the caries risk. Internet-based health interventions should be supported by preventive strategies to promote effective and positive internet use.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-6
JournalActa Odontologica Scandinavica
Early online date15 Jul 2021
DOIs
Publication statusEarly online - 15 Jul 2021

Keywords

  • Internet use
  • social media
  • oral health
  • caries' adolescents

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