The quality and content of websites in the UK advertising aligner therapy: are standards being met?


Aims To evaluate the quality of information and compliance with General Dental Council (GDC) ethical advertising guidelines for English-language orthodontic websites providing orthodontic treatment with aligners in the United Kingdom (UK).Materials and methods The term 'orthodontic aligners or braces' was entered into the Google online search engine. The first 100 English language orthodontic websites (practice or company) were pooled. Both the quality (DISCERN instrument) and compliance with GDC ethical advertising guidelines were assessed. Frequency distributions and the overall summative DISCERN score for each website were calculated.Results The overall mean DISCERN score was 42.9 (SD = 9.4). The quality of information was only rated as good-excellent for 16% of websites and only 11% of websites showed full compliance with GDC guidelines on ethical advertising. A link to the GDC/authority website (75%), the date when the website was last updated (72%), and the practice complaints policy (66%) were not commonly provided. The country of qualification, a statement of whether practices provide NHS or private treatment or a combination of both, and the date when the website was last updated, were significant predictors for the overall quality based on DISCERN score.Conclusions The quality of information provided on websites providing aligner therapy and their compliance with GDC guidelines on ethical advertising was suboptimal. An improvement in both areas is required

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