Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Dentistry



First Advisor

Tiffany Williams

Second Advisor

Patrice Wunsch

Third Advisor

Bhavna Shroff

Fourth Advisor

Caroline Carrico


Purpose: This project aims to determine which aspects of pediatric dental practice websites are preferable to the guardians of pediatric dental patients and which of these aspects are currently available to guardians on the websites of pediatric dental practices across the United States. The comparison will reveal if practice websites are meeting the needs of the guardians of pediatric dental patients. Our hope is to provide meaningful guidance to pediatric dentists designing new practice websites and to provide the guardians of pediatric dental patients with an appealing online experience during their use of the aforementioned websites. Methods: A survey with questions regarding design features of pediatric dental practices was administered to the guardians of pediatric dental patients in 3 private practices within an hour drive of Richmond, Virginia. Guardians responded to 16 website characteristics using a numeric scale to indicate desirability. In parallel, a website audit was performed on a representative sample of US pediatric dental practice websites to determine the presence of the same 16 features to allow for comparisons. In addition, guardians also rated sample web pages and answered questions regarding website use and demographics.

Results: A total of 51 guardians completed the survey across 3 practices. The majority of respondents were female (36, 71%) and had private insurance (n=43, 84%). Guardians were predominantly between the ages of 25 and 54 (49, 98%) and the majority of the children they represented were between the ages of 5 and 13 (69%). The guardians rated the homepage image showing diverse children (p<0.0001), the “About the Doctor” section in structured list format (p<0.0001) and the location of the contact information banner at top and right side (p<0.0020, p<0.0148 respectively) significantly higher than the other options. The guardians also ranked the homepage information banner location at the top of the page higher than at the bottom but this was not significant (p=0.0528). The guardians also rated 6 features of pediatric dental websites at a level of importance above 50 percent while these features were present on less than 30 percent of the websites audited. These features are online payments, a search function, before and after pictures of treatments, a chat box for communication with the office, video testimonials from guardians and patients and ways the dental practice gives back to the community. Half of the guardians (n=26, 51%) agreed or strongly agreed the website was a factor in the decision to become a patient of a particular dental practice (p=0.0001) and this group visited an average of 2.5 websites before deciding to become a patient at a specific dental practice.

Conclusion: Regarding available features, guardians’ preferences seem to differ from what is currently available on pediatric dental websites. Pediatric dentists need to consider adding certain convenience features to their websites to allow a more aesthetic and useful experience for the guardians of their patients. Guardians prefer photos of children with diverse ethnic backgrounds on the homepage of pediatric dental websites. Guardians who use websites to choose a practice reported visiting an average of 2.5 pediatric dental practices’ websites before choosing which pediatric dentist to visit.


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