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Contribute to science from your office with national research nonprofit

August 07, 2017

By Michelle Manchir

Dental professionals don’t need to leave their offices to be involved in clinical studies that aim to advance the science of the profession.

The National Dental Practice-Based Research Network, funded by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research for its work, is encouraging more dental professionals around the country to be part of its network of more than 6,000 dentists, hygienists and others in the field.

There is no cost for membership and it can include as much involvement as participating in clinical trials or as little as filling out online questionnaires or simply receiving email updates about the nonprofit’s study results, said Dr. Sonia Makhija, the network’s director of communications and dissemination and a University of Alabama at Birmingham instructor. Dr. Makhija has served as the study principal investigator for three clinical network studies on suspicious occlusal caries lesions.
National Dental PBRN Regions infographic
Distribution of patients infographic
The studies, said Dr. Makhija, “established prevalence of, as well as important information, regarding the management of these lesions.”

The results of these and other network studies, as well as a list of studies for which it’s recruiting, are available on the network’s website, NationalDentalPBRN.org.

Topics for ongoing studies include detection of human papillomavirus, root canal treatment, temporomandibular disorders and use of electronic dental records in clinical research.

Participation in some of the studies sometimes require advance work, such as reading materials in or participating in a conference call, according to the network’s website. The network, which is divided into six geographic regions, also has some region-specific requirements that may require dentists to complete Human Subjects Protection training.

For Dr. Daniel Barletta, a dentist in Rochester, New York, participation in the network, specifically a study focused on predicting outcomes of root canal treatment, “had a tremendous impact on my practice,” he said.

“It changed the way I talk to patients about the post-op experience,” he said.
That study hopes to include 150 practitioners and 1,650 patients to investigate risk factors for severe pain following root canal therapy; the prevalence and impact of persistent pain following root canal therapy; and the impact of severe and persistent pain on health-related quality of life.

Participation with the network also includes access to a member forum on the network website, allowing participants to discuss and network.

The network’s website describes additional benefits to being part of the network, including enhancing communication with patients by showing their dentist cares about the scientific basis of clinical practice, and team building for staff by engaging them in clinical discovery and quality improvement.

Dr. Martha Somerman, National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research director, sums up the network’s value in a video on the network site.

“These practitioners are not only caring for their patients, they’re also contributing to research to answer real-life clinical questions and generating scientific evidence that will help shape the future of dentistry,” she said.

For more information or to be come a member of the network, visit NationalDentalPBRN.org or email NationalDPBRN@uab.edu.