There’s a lot of pseudoscience and false information on the internet about dentistry and oral health. If you’re not careful, you can easily embarrass yourself by sharing something untrue on Facebook or Twitter. Even more dangerous, you may be led astray by articles that suggest you change your diet or lifestyle in unhealthy ways by using pseudoscience or falsehoods.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself next time you find an article with questionable information and need to fact-check internet claims.
- Is this a believable, trust-worthy source?
Many websites that publish misleading information are small and fringe. If you find an article published on a website you’ve never heard of, do a little research into what the site promotes. Websites that have a clear agenda are generally not as trustworthy as academic or journalistic sources, like Time Magazine or CNN.
While some websites may look like large legitimate sites, there are a lot of fakes out there. Mercola.com for example is a common publisher of pseudoscience relating to healthcare, but the website looks professional and reliable. Even the Huffington Post, which is generally considered a high-quality, journalistic source, has been guilty of publishing subjective claims as facts in relation to healthcare.
If you find information online that contradicts common oral care practices or your dentist’s suggestions, don’t be embarrassed to ask your dentist about it!
- Does this article have an agenda?
Journalistic sources are generally trustworthy because their primary goal is to educate and entertain. If an article is promoting a particular product, line of products, or even a lifestyle change that could benefit the author financially in some way, you should be extra critical about the information it provides.
- Is this recent?
One downside to the internet as a vast repository of knowledge is that there’s no limit to how long a page can exist. Theories that were debunked years ago may still have pages written before the debunking that portray them as fact. Whenever you have a doubt about the validity of an article, try to find out when it was published. The older it is, the more skeptical you should be.
- Is this claim too good to be true?
In oral care, and healthcare generally, any cure, treatment, or remedy that seems too good to be true almost always is. Miracle cures are almost always pseudoscience and should be avoided.
Follow these simple rules and your dentist’s recommendations and your mouth will have a long, healthy life!