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Using Research for Clinical Decision-Making: Elements of a Research Report

Course Number: 45A

Dental Literature

To find out what therapy or products are supported by research, the dental healthcare provider must rely on the dental literature. This represents the body of knowledge about dentistry and dental hygiene that is contained in journals, books, reports, and other written sources. Important research, properly conducted, will generally be found in the scientific literature. This is because reputable scientists and companies seek outside/independent review of their research and products and submit their research findings for publication in respected scientific journals. Keep in mind the process of conducting research and publishing the findings often takes several years.

Dental healthcare professionals should be familiar with the areas of the literature that relate to their practice and should review appropriate journals on a routine basis. Practitioners interested in reviewing a particular subject can search MEDLINE, which contains citations and summaries or abstracts of all biomedical journal articles since 1966.2 The full text of these articles is also available for many biomedical and dental journals. Full-featured versions of MEDLINE are typically available at dental and medical libraries. PubMed, a free version of MEDLINE, is readily available to practitioners with Internet access.

Scopus is a useful search tool available at libraries. Another freely available resource is the Cochrane Reviews. These are systematic reviews of evidence-based patient care. The American Dental Association maintains an up-to-date online database specifically on evidence-based dental care at Finally, Google Scholar is also a powerful tool for researching the scientific literature.