Evidenced-based Decision Making

With new power toothbrush models debuting frequently, dental professionals may wonder how to best assess the effectiveness and safety of various new toothbrushes. It cannot be assumed all brushes perform equally well. Ideally, toothbrush claims should be supported by well-controlled clinical research. What are the best sources for evidence of product effectiveness and safety?


There are many literature resources available to dental professionals. Preferred sources should be those that have editorial boards who peer-review the submitted manuscripts for publication; examples of these titles include: American Journal of Dentistry, The Journal of Clinical Dentistry, The Journal of Evidence-Based Dental Practice, Journal of Clinical Periodontology, Journal of the American Dental Association, Journal of Dental Hygiene and The Dental Assistant Journal. Journals can be obtained through subscriptions, on-line or through a library affiliated with a dental, dental hygiene, or dental assisting program. Reviews of current literature are available from many resources.

Independent Organizations

Another source is independent organizations such as the Cochrane Collaboration. The Cochrane Collaboration is an organization “that aims to help people make well informed decisions about healthcare by preparing, maintaining and promoting the accessibility of systematic reviews of the effects of healthcare interventions.”51 Multiple databases are typically searched to collect research on the topic, including MEDLINE, EMBASE, and CINAHL. Organizations such as the Cochrane Collaboration review all the literature and make conclusions the public and dental professionals can examine, apply and evaluate. Manufacturers are also contacted for research results. Dental professionals have access to all these resources as well; consider asking company representatives for published research that supports their products.

Other Resources

The internet contains a wealth of information for dental professionals and patients, however caution is warranted in verifying accuracy, and source-checking is recommended. Other resources include colleagues, experts in the field, or continuing education courses. Ultimately, the dental professional must evaluate the information, apply it and evaluate the outcome. The internet al so offers many resources for information on products or links to product information (Table 2).

Table 2. Web-based Information Resources.
Contains dental and medical literature.
American Academy of Periodontology
Contains guidelines, position papers, various treatments and therapies.
Evidence-Based News
Links to other sites.
Links to other sites.
National Oral Health Information Clearinghouse
Reviewed and compiled information for professionals and consumers.
Centre for Evidence-Based Dentistry
Evidence-Based center.
The Cochrane Collaboration
Publishes systematic reviews.