The proof is in the pudding

28 March 2021
3 min read
Published:

The Association of Dental Implantology explains the importance of keeping up to date.

Evidence-based dentistry is a staple of the modern profession. Every process implemented by the entire dental team, from clinical procedures to infection control protocols, is backed by science. Why? To ensure the safety and effectiveness of everything that is done within the dental practice. While crucial in all areas of dentistry, it is particularly pertinent within dental implantology, where techniques, materials and technologies continue to evolve.

Keeping up to date
Remaining abreast of the latest research means that clinicians and their teams can deliver the best possible treatment for their patients according to the science understood at that time. This enables dentists and oral surgeons to adapt their surgical and restorative sequences in order to reduce the risk of potential complications. It also enables dental hygienists and dental therapists to enhance their maintenance techniques so as to help their patients enjoy the benefits of implant treatment for longer.

Furthermore, new information and research paves the way to new techniques and innovative types of treatment that enable more patients to benefit from dental implants. For instance, research and scientific study in the past decade has introduced the profession to the concept of immediate dental implants, to full-arch reconstruction and to zygomatic implants. Whether clinicians use these in practice or not, the point is that they have a choice of treatments at their disposal and only by keeping up-to-date with the latest studies in the field are they aware of all the options.

Quality of a paper
There is no argument that new papers are essential for the sharing of knowledge and the betterment of the profession as a whole. However, with so many documents now easily accessible via online platforms, it has become important to assess the quality of each one before deciding to implement any recommendations in practice.

There are several features to consider when determining the reliability of a paper. First, consider the type of document – original research, review article, clinical study, clinical trial or opinion – as this should suggest how much of the contents are based on science and facts, and how much is based on the authors’ interpretations and/or personal experience. Depending on the type of paper, there are various further aspects to evaluate, such as sample size, relevance, originality, timescale and potential bias. It is also important to reflect on what you would conclude from the results presented and whether this matches the authors’ conclusions – discrepancies can occur in interpretation or due to bias/conflict of interest.

Clinicians may find it useful to refer to what is known as the “Hierarchy of Evidence”, which organises document types according to quality and authority. Applied to healthcare, at the bottom of the pyramid is expert opinion and patient experience, followed by unfiltered information via case-controlled studies and reports, cohort studies and randomised controlled trials. Working towards the top, the filtered information is critically-appraised individual articles, critically-appraised topics and then systematic reviews and meta-analyses.

An invaluable resource – the ADI Gateway
So, we appreciate the importance of access to the science and clinical research supporting our profession. But how often have you gone to check a paper that you read recently and struggled to find it amongst the enormous gaggle of studies, reviews and research articles available online? Or, have you lost a frustrating amount of time reading papers without actually finding one you can trust to support your current practises or that helps you adapt your protocols effectively?

Given the mammoth expanse of studies within the field, searching for the latest and most reliable evidence in dental implantology can be particularly difficult. The ADI has introduced a new resource – the ADI Gateway – to make it simpler for dental professionals to access the latest evidence in the dental implant field. This resource has been created by Professor Nikos Donos – ADI academic representative – and a team of clinical academics and experienced clinicians.

The ADI Gateway provides links to a wide range of clinically relevant and authoritative papers. The platform is organised into main topics which are each sub-categorised according to key areas and common questions asked by professionals. Links to appropriate consensus papers from recent consensus conferences of worldwide leading organisations such as EAO, ITI, EFP, AAP and AO are then presented, all in one place for convenience.

Evidence is everything
Knowing why you do what you do at every stage of dental implant treatment is crucial for ensuring that you always do the very best by your patients. Remaining on top of the evidence and utilising it accordingly will not only support good clinical outcomes and patient satisfaction, but it will also give you confidence in the quality of your everyday work.

To access the ADI Gateway or to join ADI, visit the website www.adi.org.uk