Sunday, June 21, 2015

Reflections on Trends with Social Media and Dentistry

Social Media has been becoming more and more popular in the field of dentistry as a form of communication with patients. New procedures, education, and changes within the clinic all can be conveyed by a tweet or a post on Facebook.  As well, patients can also post their comments and feedback about their experience in the clinic for others to see.  In many ways, it can be very positive for business however, there is a negative side to Social Media which we are now starting to see where the lines of professionalism are blurred.

We develop some very close relationships with our patients due to the fact that they probably see us more often than any other health care professional.  For this reason, they often become like a close friend/family member.  Personal information is often shared and trusted to be kept private and confidential but how do we answer a patient’s request to friend them on Facebook?  How can we maintain a professional relationship if we allow patients to see aspects of our personal life outside the clinic? 

Another trend we are are finding is people posting photos of their dental treatment on Facebook or Twitter along with a negative comment.  Some clinics are banning cell phones in the treatment rooms for this reason to protect themselves from the damaging posts.   There are also examples of negative/derogatory comments patients make about the staff in the clinic.  Then there is the example from Dalhousie's dentistry department this past year where some 4th year male dental students created an inappropriate Facebook page towards women and some of their female classmates.  Other examples include staff/dental students posting unprofessional pictures with the #dentalproblems or #dentalstudentproblems.  

Social Media allows us to stay connected to one another in a way we never could but at the same time it has brought new problems that we have never encountered before and need to figure out how to manage.  Professionalism is one issue that needs to be addressed with regards to Social Media as it can affect how you are viewed by potential future employers.  It has been said that employers will often google potential employees or check out their Facebook pages to help them make a decision about whether or not they want to have as an employee.  For this reason, Social Media and its effects on professionalism should be addressed in any dental professional program.


Abe, P. & Jordan, N. A. (2013).  Integrating Social Media Into the Classroom Curriculum.  About Campus, 18: 16-20. doi: 10.1002/abc.21107

Integrating Social Media Into the Classroom Curriculum

LeNoue, M., Hall, T., & Eighmy, M. A. (2011).  Adult Education and the Social Media Revolution.  Adult Learning. Spring 2011, Vol. 22 Issue 2, p4-12. 9p.

Adult Education and the Social Media Revolution