2Preventative and Restorative Dental Science
3Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, School of Dentistry, University of California, San Francisco, California
4Software Developer, Datajockey.org, New York City
5Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, USA
Using twitter, a social networking platform, this study examined parents’ perceptions and behaviors related to their child’s oral health. Publically available tweets on twitter were extracted from 14 randomly selected nonconsecutive days in December 2012 and January 2013. A total of 1073 tweets meeting the search criteria were included and analyzed. Parents frequently described events related to their children’s dental eruption, exfoliation, and grinding on twitter, which accounted for close to half of the tweets. One in three (32%) concerns that parents raised was related to one of these events. Concerns about dental esthetics represented the largest category of concerns (28%) that parents had. The most frequent actions described were related to dental visits (61%) and caries prevention (33%). More than half of the tweets contained an associated attitude of the parents themselves or their children (57%) with 2 in 3 attitudes related to dental settings, such as dental visits, being negative. Twitter can serve as a rich source of data on parental perceptions and behaviors related to their child’s oral health. Future research is warranted to better understand how social media can facilitate parental positive attitudes and oral health promotion behaviors.