Dentists Reviewing Literature

I think this is somewhat of joke; however, dentists are soon going to be getting their hands dirty reviewing dental literature. The American Dental Association (ADA) is starting to practice evidence based dentistry (EDA) as opposed to biased dentistry. They should have been doing this decades ago!

The recent ADA’s Evidence Reviewers workshop in late June of 2008 taught clinicians and researchers how to critically assess scientific literature and how and why critical summaries should be written.

“I was able to come away from the EBD reviewer workshop training with a dramatically new and refreshing perspective on evidence in dentistry,” said Dr. Joseph Hagenbruch of Harvard, Ill., a general dentist and incoming chair of the ADA Council on Dental Benefit Programs.

“More importantly, I was able to learn skills and techniques for use when reviewing dental literature for determination of document validity, reasonable applicability and even aspects of predictability.”

The participants were taught how to adopt an evidence-based approach to treatment planning as well as how to write concise one-page critical summaries of systematic reviews to help practitioners understand and use scientific findings.

“It was really exciting to be talking to the leaders in the field and learning from them the science of evaluating systematic reviews,” said Dr. Heather Hill, a general dentist and National Library of Medicine Fellow at Oregon Health and Science University. “They were focused on making the information succinct and relevant to clinicians.”

All of the reviewers received individual mentoring and feedback to further develop their skills in preparation of the critical summaries.

“It may sound naive or perhaps a bit cheesy, but the experience felt much like investigating a new frontier or planet that was overdue for exploration and our charge was to look under every stone, move every leaf of vegetation to make sure that nothing is missed and all the bases are touched in terms of examining evidence,” said Dr. Hagenbruch.

Getting involved in EBD research has been a satisfying experience for Dr. Hagenbruch, who over the years has often questioned some of the material he has heard during continuing education programs and in published studies he has read.

“At times I have experienced situations in which material being presented by the seminar speaker, in my opinion, was less than accurate or the individual was showing an obvious bias toward a product, piece of dental equipment or treatment technique,” he said. “On those occasions the thought always crossed my mind of how advantageous it would be to actually be able to serve within a group that sorted out the fact from the fiction, phony and fluff.

“The American Dental Association’s Evidence-Based Dentistry Program and its commitment, through membership involvement, to sort out and untangle things in an unbiased manner, seemed to me to be too favorable of an invitation to pass up,” he said.

Like Dr. Hagenbruch, Dr. Hill is enthusiastic about taking up the charge to get clinicians interested in EBD. She became involved in EBD because she enjoys dental research and having it ultimately make life easier for dentists and patients.

“Systematic reviews are the gold standard of EBD and I feel like I am just starting to understand their intricacies,” she said. “It is gratifying to be involved in this project from the beginning. I look forward to being able to use what we create.”

Go to the following link to learn more about the American Dental Association and Evidence Based Dentistry. The orginal article was written by Jennifer Garvin and is located here.

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