Medical Perils of the Internet

There’s a new disease out there to be wary of. “Cyberchondria” is caught by surfing the web for medical information.

Would you accept medical advice from a stranger on the street? That’s what most of the Internet consists of; a bunch of strangers. The Internet can indeed be a tangled, impossible to navigate, web when searching for medical information.

You might think that you can search published medical (or dental) journals and get accurate information but that’s not necessarily the best strategy. Journals often publish obscure and challenging cases that probably won’t give you information about what you’re looking for. Even seasoned professionals often have a difficult time sifting through these articles to extract the relevant information.

A recent scientific article looked at the search habits of people before they showed up to the Emergency Room. What they found was that 80% of the people who looked things up online reported that their searches actually improved their subsequent ER experience. They felt that they were better able to communicate symptoms and understand what the Doctor was telling them. So, the conclusion was that looking things up can be helpful.

But “search” has challenges too. A search for “endometriosis”, the subject of over 4.5 million searches a year, showed that only ONE of the top 54 results contained accurate information. That’s scary. The best sources of information are from trusted sites such as Academic Institutions, Medical Centers or other professionally monitored sources whose information is vetted. Going to Pubmed or Google Scholar might not be as fruitful as going to The Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic or Harvard Health.

And of course, one wouldn’t want to spend 20 minutes searching for the symptoms of a stroke, if that’s what’s happening, when you could have called 911 first!

In dentistry, the problem of search is just as perplexing. There’s a lot of bad and wrong information out there. That’s why we’ve begun sending out these email-newsletter-blogs. We want to be your trusted source of information.

We believe that the best medicine (and dentistry) is personalized. The Internet, at best, presents “One size fits all” solutions. At its worst, it presents “worst case” scenarios. Most problems are often in between. It’s “off the rack” advice. We prefer custom, individualized solutions and advice.

So here’s an invitation. If you have a symptom, problem or question, go ahead, do some Internet searching. Then, either call or email us.  We’ll gladly answer your questions or give you advice based on what we know about you as an individual.

We’re here to help you at Linhart Dentistry. And, with our team of highly experienced specialists, we can give you the most accurate and best information possible. Whether its gums, teeth, tongue, TMJ, whitening, Invisalign, Sleep or snoring appliances, Cosmetics, Implants or any dental “search” you can think of, Linhart Dentistry has your answer. Just ask! 

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