Background The rapid growth of social media in recent years has highlighted uses beyond their original purposes, particularly in education. Twitter is a free, open access social network with high potential to enhance interactive learning. The use of Twitter in dental education has been far less investigated; therefore, the objective of this systematic review is to explore the current uses and to examine the impact of Twitter on dental education, and to analyze and predict potential models of Twitter for future application in dental training, education, and teaching.
Methods Five databases (PubMed, Embase, Medline, Scopus, and Web of Science) and the gray literature using keywords related to Twitter and dental education were searched. Articles were screened for inclusion, and two researchers independently extracted the data using a standardized data collection template and analyzed the quality of the included articles using the Medical Education Research Study Quality Instrument.
Results Of the 121 articles identified from the initial search, 68 remained after duplications were removed. Article screening removed 61 articles leaving 7 eligible for inclusion and data extraction. Five studies were cross-sectional and two were cohort studies, and all involved survey-based designs with 998 respondents in total. Quality assessment gave a score range between 8 and 12.5 out of a total of 18 points.
Conclusions Our study supports the potential for Twitter as a useful learning tool in dental education. Features, including the open access nature of Twitter as well as the low level of ads and free registration, make it appealing to students as well as a useful tool for interactive learning. However, there are significant barriers to its use, including privacy and concerns about professionalism. Higher quality and greater impact research is required.