Updates in the dental community can happen overnight, so staying up-to-date on dental news will help you now and throughout your career. The American Dental Association (ADA) makes it easy to find the latest in evidence-based dentistry, such as the new clinical practice guideline on antibiotic use for dental pain and swelling.
As a health sciences major, I enrolled in a course called Evidence-Based Practice. Every week, we would learn new skills to apply to the ultimate objective: choose a clinical topic in our field and evaluate the literature to make a (hypothetical) treatment decision. As an undergraduate student with little exposure to clinical research papers, the assigned task seemed overwhelming. The truth is, learning how to evaluate literature is a skill that takes effort and time to develop, but doing so is critical. Evidence-based dentistry is so important, in fact, that it is listed as one of ADEA’s entry-level competencies for graduates entering into practice. Despite this, new dentists struggle to implement it into their practices. The two most frequently cited obstacles are lack of time and insufficient background knowledge to evaluate research critically. If you are unfamiliar with evidence-based dentistry, here are some things to help get you acquainted.
Imagine if all the patient information you record could be seen with interactive charts. Do you think patients would be better educated about their disease progression if they could see computer renderings of their bone receding over time? Could interpreting pocket depth measurements graphically help with diagnosis or patient education?
Dentists are meticulous, analyzing and recording patient information and perfecting our preparations to the millimeter. Yet there is a general lack of awareness regarding dental informatics, a spectrum of dentistry dedicated to data collection, analysis and interpretation of what we practice regularly.