Online Program

Social media and community water fluoridation

Wednesday, November 6, 2013 : 10:50 a.m. - 11:10 a.m.

Aaron Mertz, MA, DMD student, Boston University School of Dental Medicine, Boston, MA
Myron Allukian Jr., DDS, MPH, Massachusetts Coalition for Oral Health, Boston, MA

Background: 95% of US teens and 81% of adults use the Internet. Social media is used by 69% of US Internet users, with Facebook and Twitter together having over 150 billion users. This study describes anti-fluoridation activity and dominance of the Internet and social media, both of which are fluoridation information sources. Methods: Monthly website traffic to major fluoridation information websites was determined from June 2011 to May 2012. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube fluoridation activity was categorized in March and April 2012 as pro or anti-fluoridation, a local or general issue, what type of media was utilized, and how it was shared. Results: Anti-fluoridation website traffic exceeds pro-fluoridation activity five to sixty fold, i.e. 133,570 average anti-fluoridation monthly page views versus 2231, 8794, and 27040 pro-fluoridation monthly page views, depending on the website. The anti-fluoridationists use social plug-ins for Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube and there were no social media plug-ins on the fluoridation sections of the ADA, CDC, NIDCR, and WHO. Cancer, useless, and poisonous were the three major arguments used against fluoridation. Conclusions: Anti-fluoridation information significantly dominates the Internet, and social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Thousands of people are being misinformed daily about the safety, health and economic benefits of fluoridation.

Learning Areas:

Advocacy for health and health education
Chronic disease management and prevention
Communication and informatics
Public health or related education
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Demonstrate the overwhelming presence of fluoridation misinformation and anti-fluoridation groups on the Internet and their connection to and presence on social media.

Keyword(s): Oral Health Needs, Oral Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: To obtain my Master's degree in 2012, I my final thesis on this topic.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.