Global Interest in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery: Analysis of Google Trends Data

J Oral Maxillofac Surg. 2020 May 18;S0278-2391(20)30484-5. doi: 10.1016/j.joms.2020.05.017. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

Purpose: Oral and maxillofacial surgery (OMS) has an expansive scope, with myriad diagnoses treated by practicing surgeons. Patients and referring providers are increasingly turning to Web-based sources to find information about clinical conditions before consultations or in conjunction with ongoing care. The purpose of this study was to examine the current trends of public interest of OMS procedures as assessed by online search trends.

Materials and methods: A cross-sectional study of Internet search data obtained via Google Trends (GT; Alphabet, Mountain View, CA) was conducted. Data were collected using GT for OMS-related search terms between January 2004 and May 2019. The search terms used in the analysis were "wisdom teeth," "TMJ," "dental implants," "jaw surgery," "jaw fracture," "facial trauma," and "facial cosmetic surgery," defined to be the core surgical aspects of OMS based on public awareness campaigns sponsored by the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons. Relative search volumes, trends over time, geographic trends, and seasonal trends were analyzed. For all analyses, P ≤ .05 was considered significant.

Results: Overall search volume trends for OMS procedures showed an increase over time, with seasonal and geographic trends. "Wisdom teeth" was the most searched term and had the greatest increase in search volume over time. "Facial trauma" was the least searched term, with no appreciable trend over time. Geographic search volume was greatest in the United States. Seasonal changes were most apparent with searches for "wisdom teeth" and "jaw surgery."

Conclusions: Analysis of GT data shows substantial interest in core OMS procedures, with seasonal variations noted for certain areas of practice (third molars and jaw surgery) and consistent interest in other areas (facial cosmetic surgery, dental implant reconstruction, and temporomandibular disorders). The use of GT data may be a powerful tool for predicting demand for OMS services and for public education campaigns.