School of Dentistry research professor to study social media dependency and its effects on oral health

First Oral Health for Children, Youth and Families Fund (OHCYFF) awarded to Dr. Maryam Amin

Jessalyn King - 31 July 2020

Dr. Maryam Amin's application entitled Social media addiction, parental mental health, and children's oral health among recent immigrants will examine the effect that social media dependency may have on the oral health of young immigrant families. She says, "This isn't just about going to the dentist. We want to see what would prevent parents from caring for their oral health and that of their children."

Previous research has shown that immigrants, especially recent immigrants, are more dependant on social media than non-immigrants and that social media dependency can cause anxiety or depression. Amin says, "Social networks have become not only socialization but also a source of information, and we think they affect oral health."

Amin has conducted research with immigrant communities previously, but the timing on this one will be tricky. "I think it's important to acknowledge COVID but we don’t yet know how we’ll adjust our methodologies. It will also be tricky because our community partnerships were based on a community hub. Who knows, maybe we do some teledentistry! This is an interesting problem to have... Usually, the biggest obstacle is funding," she jokes.

Amin is the first recipient of the OHCYFF, which has a goal to support projects that demonstrate a high likelihood of enacting change in regards to a specific oral health issue. She says, "We're trying to identify barriers to access to care for immigrant populations, especially recent immigrants. It would be naïve to look only at the cost of dentistry because it's the first thing that comes to mind."