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American Dental Association's first Twitter chat a success

Sharecare-hosted event in honor of National Children's Dental Health Month

March 19, 2012

By Kelly Soderlund, ADA News staff

All was atwitter on Feb. 28 when the American Dental Association held its first Twitter chat in celebration of February’s National Children’s Dental Health Month.

Dr. Shenkin

Sharecare hosted Chat-n-Chomp: Kid’s Dental Health, and ADA media spokespersons in pediatric dentistry, Dr. Jonathan Shenkin, vice chair of the ADA Council on Communications, and Dr. Mary Hayes joined Dr. Dante Gonzales, ADA member and Sharecare editorial advisory board member, to answer questions from the public about oral health.

Even former stars of ABC’s “The Bachelorette,” Trista Sutter and Dr. Ashley Hebert, who graduated from Penn Dental School, got in on the fun. Dr. Hebert promoted the chat on her Twitter account, and Ms. Sutter sent in a question about discoloration in her children’s teeth.

More than 153,800 Twitter accounts received a tweet about oral health. The chat’s hashtag, #cavityfightrs, was used to help organize and spread information and the spelling of it was intentional.

New York Times article spotlights Association

An article in The New York Times about tooth decay in preschoolers featured a response from the ADA, leading to a slew of national attention.

The ADA first started working with the reporter from The New York Times a month ago, providing extensive background information, replying to specific questions and coordinating interview opportunities with Dr. Jonathan Shenkin, ADA media spokesperson in pediatric dentistry. Working with the media proactively is essential to ensuring that the ADA’s voice is heard and that the Association’s position as America’s leading advocate for oral health is unquestioned.

The story, published March 6, quoted Dr. Shenkin as saying “I have parents tell me all the time, 'No one told us when to go to the dentist, when we should start using fluoride toothpaste’—all this basic information to combat the No. 1 chronic disease in children.”

A tremendous wave of additional national and local news coverage on children’s oral health resulted from the story as evidenced by stories featured on Time.com, the “NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams” and “The Today Show,” among others.

“It was really a great opportunity to delve further into the world of social media with the ADA,” Dr. Shenkin said. “Seeing all these different interested parties ask questions and interact with us online in a way that we never have before was remarkable and a step forward in advancing the ADA’s message about oral health promotion.”

Questions ranged from how much fluoride do children need to the benefits and pitfalls of drinking juice to how to make children comfortable in a dental environment, Dr. Shenkin said.

The collaboration with Sharecare is part of the ADA’s outreach strategy to provide credible oral health information directly to the public, raise awareness of the importance of good oral hygiene and regular dental visits and emphasize that oral health is integral to overall health.

Stay tuned for future chats and follow the ADA on Twitter@AmerDentalAssn, for the public, and @ADAnews, for the profession. If you do not have a Twitter account, you can create one by visiting www.twitter.com.

Visit ADA.org/sharecare to learn more about the ADA’s collaboration with Sharecare or to apply to become an ADA Sharecare contributor.