Integrating The Domains Of Dentistry And Research

Dr. Martha Somerman, director of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, and Dave Vannier, Ph.D., chief, Science Communication Branch, NIDCR, discuss the important role practitioners can play in shaping research that answers real-life clinical questions. This piece originally appeared as a guest editorial for the February issue of The Journal of the American Dental Association.

The evidence-based movement has helped focus dentistry on the importance of a sound scientific foundation for clinical decision making. In fact, the American Dental Association (ADA) Center for Evidence-Based Dentistrydescribes “current, clinically relevant evidence” as 1 of the 3 pillars of effective decision making in practice. Science has indeed improved dental practice, and biomedical research will continue to yield exciting new technologies and treatments. Although essential to ensure the highest quality patient care, the evidence-based movement assumes dental practitioners are primarily consumers of research findings, when in fact clinicians have also been central to advancing the science of oral health. At the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), part of the National Institutes of Health, we are working to capitalize on the valuable contributions practitioners can and should make to the research that will improve health.

The concept of practicing dentists advancing scientific research is hardly new. Often the practitioner first recognizes an abnormality in a patient that sparks a fruitful line of inquiry.

Read the rest of the editorial at JADA.

JADA Video Interview: JADA editor Dr. Michael Glick has a one-on-one conversation with Dr. Somerman. Watch the video here.