What is EBD?

 Image: Venn diagram showing the intersection of Evidence, Clinical Expertise, and Patients' Needs & PreferencesIn simple terms, evidence-based dentistry (EBD) is the practice of looking for, evaluating, and using research to help inform dentists and patients about advances in treatment and oral care. The topics on this Web site will help you and your dentist get the most current information. It is important that you discuss the information you find on this web site with your dentist to help decide how it may influence the treatment decisions that affect you.

Evidence-based dentistry (EBD) is a way to make decisions about your dental treatment. It connects the latest research findings with the daily practice of dentistry.When using EBD, your dentist considers three important sources of information:

1. published scientific articles;
2. his or her own clinical expertise; and
3. your needs or preferences

To keep up with the current science, your dentist looks at many studies. Before talking to you about those studies, he or she compares what each one says. Considering that thousands of studies are published every year, this can be an overwhelming task.

Systematic reviews are reports that summarize the best available scientific evidence from published studies. This website has a database of systematic reviews on a number of topics. Since systematic reviews are scientific reports, understanding these can take a lot of time and effort. We have selected several systematic reviews and pulled key pieces of information from these reports for you and your dentist. You may be particularly interested in the Plain Language Summaries (PLS), which are short, non-technical summaries of research findings written with patients in mind.

You cannot base your oral health decisions on these summaries alone. Your dentist is the best person to talk with about how EBD information applies to you personally. He or she knows about your oral and general health, which can determine which treatment is best for you. Together you can discuss treatment and oral health care decisions.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is a systematic review?
    A systematic review is a comprehensive look at the scientific studies that have been published on a particular subject. In a very organized way, the reviewers choose studies that relate specifically to the topic. They then analyze those studies carefully to see how they were conducted and how one compares to the next. Finally, they write a review that summarizes their findings.
    Systematic reviews are useful because they help you see what scientific studies have to say about a particular topic. They also identify areas where more research is needed.
  • What is a critical summary?
    A critical summary is an easy-to-read, one-page write-up that summarizes the key points of a systematic review. These are written for dentists.
  • What is a plain language summary (PLS)?
    A plain language summary is an easy-to-read, one-page write-up that summarizes the key points of a systematic review. These are written for patients and are not as technical as critical summaries.
  • What are evidence-based clinical recommendations?
    Evidence-based clinical recommendations are guidelines your dentist can refer to when considering treatment options or providing advice on making good oral health choices. They are tools that a dentist can use to talk to you about the current science on a specific topic. They are based on systematic reviews and thus reflect what has been published in the scientific literature regarding that topic. Recommendations do not constitute standard of care they should be considered along with your dentist's expertise and your own needs and preferences in decision making.