What are people tweeting about orthodontic retention? A cross-sectional content analysis

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Social media can offer valuable insights in relation to the perceptions and impact of medical treatments on patient groups. There is also a lack of information concerning patient experiences with orthodontic retainers and little appreciation of barriers to optimal compliance with orthodontic retention. The aim of this study was to describe the content of Twitter posts related to orthodontic retainers.


Publicly available tweets were prospectively collected over a period of 3 to 4 weeks using a bespoke social media monitoring tool. A total of 7037 tweets were collected, of which 827 were randomly selected for the analysis. Pilot coding was undertaken on a subset of tweets (n = 70), and a coding guide was developed. Tweets were iteratively categorized under the main themes and subthemes. The frequencies of tweets in each theme and subtheme were subsequently determined.


Of 827 tweets, 660 were included in the analysis. The main themes identified included compliance, impact, maintenance, patient-clinician relationship, and positive and negative feelings. Compliance with orthodontic retainers was the most frequently coded theme (n = 248), with most reporting suboptimal compliance. The negative impact of orthodontic retainers on social and daily activities (n = 192) and the maintenance requirements (n = 115) were commonly mentioned. Patients also frequently expressed feelings about their clinician.


Subjective experiences in relation to orthodontic retainers were commonly shared on Twitter. Most of the publicly available tweets portrayed retainer wear in a negative light.

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