Need Root Canal Advice? Look Beyond YouTube



You can find videos about everything on YouTube. Even root canals. But the quality of the information in these videos varies greatly. Dentists should steer their patients toward alternative educational sources, according to a recent study of what’s currently playing on the popular website.

Researchers plugged 3 terms into YouTube’s search box: endodontics, root canal, and root canal treatment. Overall, they assessed 124 videos and selected 20 for each term. Some videos were excluded from selection due to their language, lack of audio, running length (greater than 15 minutes), or duplication.

Next, the researchers evaluated the videos based on duration, ownership, number of views, age, number of likes and dislikes, target audience, and audio and video quality. Their content was analyzed based on etiology, anatomy, symptoms, procedure, postoperative course, and prognosis.

Content was then scored for completeness and statistically analyzed using analysis of variance and a post hoc Tukey’s test. According to the researchers, video content and ownership differed markedly based on the search term that was used. There also was a wide variation in the number of views and likes/dislikes. Average video age was 788 days, or 2.16 years.

In total, dentists or specialist sources posted 46% of the videos, though this rose to 70% for uploads produced by searching for “endodontic.” Laypersons contributed 18% of the uploads for the term “root canal treatment.”

Every video lacked content in all 6 designated categories—etiology, anatomy, symptoms, procedure, postoperative course, and prognosis—though “procedure” details were covered more frequently and in better detail than the others. Videos posted by dental professionals and commercial sources were significantly more complete than videos posted by laypeople.

Considering the significant variations in source and content of these videos, as well as their generally incomplete nature, the researchers believe there is a danger in patients relying on YouTube for information. Endodontic professionals should play an active role, then, in directing their patients toward high-quality sources of information.

The study, “YouTube As a Patient-Information Source for Root Canal Treatment,” was published by the International Endodontic Journal. It was written by K. Nason, A. Donnelly, and H. F. Duncan of the Division of Restorative Dentistry and Periodontology, Dublin Dental University Hospital, Dublin, Ireland.

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