Social media may have an impact on oral health, according to Maryam Amin, DMD, MSc, Phd, of the University of Alberta School of Dentistry. She will use funding from the first Oral Health for Children, Youth and Families Fund (OHCYFF) to study the effect that social media dependency may have on the oral health of young immigrant families.
“This isn’t just about going to the dentist. We want to see what would prevent parents from caring for their oral health and that of their children,” said Amin, a professor of pediatrics in the school’s Division of Pediatric Dentistry.
Previous research has shown that immigrants, especially recent immigrants, are more dependent on social media than non-immigrants and that social media dependency can cause anxiety or depression, the school said.
“Social networks have become not only socialization but also a source of information, and we think they affect oral health,” said Amin.
Amin has conducted research with immigrant communities previously, but the timing on this study will be tricky, the school said.
“I think it’s important to acknowledge COVID, but we don’t yet know how we’ll adjust our methodologies. It will also be tricky because our community partnerships were based on a community hub,” Amin said.
“Who knows? Maybe we do some teledentistry! This is an interesting problem to have,” she said. “Usually, the biggest obstacle is funding.”
Amin is the first recipient of OHCYFF funding, which aims to support projects that demonstrate a high likelihood of enacting change in regards to a specific oral health issue.
“We’re trying to identify barriers to access to care for immigrant populations, especially recent immigrants. It would be naïve to look only at the cost of dentistry because it’s the first thing that comes to mind,” Amin said.