Objectives

To assess the quality and accuracy of information contained within the websites of providers of marketed orthodontic products.

Materials and Methods

Twenty-one websites of orthodontic appliance and adjunct (product) providers were identified. The website content was assessed via two validated quality-of-information instruments (DISCERN and the Journal of the American Medical Association [JAMA] benchmarks) and an accuracy-of-information instrument. Website content was qualitatively analyzed for themes and subthemes.

Results

More than half (n = 11; 52.3%) of the assessed websites contained clinician testimonials. The mean (SD) DISCERN score was 33.14 (5.44). No website recorded the minimum of three JAMA benchmarks required to indicate reliability. The most common content themes related to quality-of-life impact and treatment duration. Just 8% of the statements within the websites were objectively true. The Pearson correlation coefficient indicated that the DISCERN scores were correlated with the accuracy-of-information scores (r = .83; P < .001).

Conclusions

The quality and accuracy of information contained within the websites of the providers of marketed orthodontic products was poor. The combined use of DISCERN and the accuracy-of-information instrument may help overcome the shortcomings of each. Clinicians should check the accuracy of information on orthodontic product provider websites before adding links to those websites on their own sites.

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Author notes

a

Associate Professor and PR Begg Chair in Orthodontics, Adelaide Dental School, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia.

b

Teaching Lecturer, Orthodontic Unit, Adelaide Dental School, The University of Adelaide, Australia.

c

Research Associate, Australian Research Centre for Population Oral Health, Adelaide Dental School, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia.

d

Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia.

e

Professor, Australian Research Centre for Population Oral Health, Adelaide Dental School, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia.