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Time to champion evidence-based dentistry

January 21, 2013

By Jean Williams, ADA News staff

Soon it will be clear who will and won't make good on their New Year's resolutions. If perhaps you vowed to finally take a closer look at evidence-based dentistry, it's time to get going to that end.

Dr. Gupta

Dr. Benjamin
The 2013 Evidence-Based Dentistry Champions Conference is set for April 25-27 at ADA Headquarters. Applications are now being accepted, and only 100 dentists will be admitted to learn the basics of EBD and how to promote its benefits as an EBD Champion.

Dr. Shailee Gupta of Austin, Texas, took the challenge in 2012—and has resolutely proclaimed the merits of EBD ever since. She attended the 2012 conference seeking to enhance her work with underprivileged children at St. David's Foundation, the charitable arm of St. David's HealthCare, in Austin. At the time, she was St. David Foundation's clinical resource dentist—charged with leading training and continuing education efforts, when she decided to investigate EBD.

“I had been hearing about EBD, getting the ADA emails and listening to other people,” Dr. Gupta said. “But I didn't know quite what it was. In November, before the Champions course, I went to a course at Baylor in Dallas to learn a little bit more about it.

“I really wanted to learn about evidence-based dentistry and how we can use it in our program to improve the quality of service that we provide to the children in [central] Texas. So I took that course at Baylor and I became so interested because I was able to use EBD to research products and materials—different things that we were looking at to improve our program.”

Dr. Gupta later shared information she obtained about the EBD Champions Conference with St. David's clinical director.

“My clinical director said, 'This would be something great for you to go to,'“ said Dr. Gupta, who agreed. “I said, 'Maybe this is something I can come back and teach our whole staff and they can use it. Everybody can learn to do it.' So I went to the Champions Conference, and it was really great because they taught you how to talk to people about it and how to approach it.”

In addition to learning how to present EBD to other interested parties, Dr. Gupta left the conference armed with resources to spread the word.

“They also gave us these nifty slide shows,” she said. “I used the slide shows, and I added in my own slides. I wanted everyone to understand it. The Champions Conference was in March; in June, I did a whole training for our staff.”

Other attendees had revealing reactions to their EBD Champions Conference experience and shared their thoughts in the 2012 EBD Champions Conference survey.

One respondent said of the 2012 conference: “I felt the course was an excellent introduction to EBD, which I was not very familiar with. I am excited to use all the resources available and put them to use in treating my patients. “¦ I was not aware before this course of all the reliable scientific information available to us as dental practitioners.”

Said another: “Fantastic course. Definitely an uphill battle disseminating it to colleagues, patients [and] policymakers, but consistent effort will pay off. This is indeed the future of dental practice.”

The 2013 conference will include a pre-conference session that provides introductory information on EBD and on conducting online searches for scientific information. Then the conference begins in earnest with sessions more wholly focused on putting EBD to work and learning to share its value with colleagues.

Speakers and moderators will include Drs. Christopher Smiley, Elliot Abt, Jane Gillette, J. Leslie Winston, Brian Novy, James Zahrowski, Robert Compton, Robert Weyant, Brian T. Kennedy, Janet Clarkson, Partha Mukherji, Paul Benjamin and Jane Forrest, R.D.H., Ed.D. Additionally, ADA staff will include Julie Frantsve-Hawley, Ph.D., senior director, ADA Center for Evidence-Based Dentistry, Dr. Daniel Meyer, senior vice president, Science and Professional Affairs.

Champion and multiple-year conference presenter Dr. Paul Benjamin addressed the anxiety that some dentists may feel toward EBD.

“I think it's disappearing slowly, but a lot of people think that evidence-based dentistry is something to be concerned about when it isn't,” Dr. Benjamin said. “If it's done properly, you're a better dentist. It improves thinking. It makes you look at things more scientifically. It's all good stuff. Sometimes you get nervous with that. You think you're back in school and someone's going to criticize you. Who knows? I don't know the reasons. But continuing competency and continuing education are the essence of dentistry. You always have to be up on the new things. Things are changing much quicker.”

Each year as a Champions speaker, Dr. Benjamin addresses dental practice-based research networks and how they relate to EBD. Dental PBRNs—which are groups of outpatient care practices that investigate research questions and share their experiences and expertise—came on the scene just about eight years ago, after years of prevalence in other medical fields, Dr. Benjamin said. They naturally coalesce with EBD, he said.

“Where the practice-based research networks come in is that we are doing research in our offices throughout the country on research projects that are important to dentists,” he said. “Therefore, as an evidence-based dentist, I can now hopefully have a little more evidence by having more research done by the dental PBRNs. So to me the PBRNs are a very important spoke of the big hub. The big hub is evidence-based dentistry.”

To participate in the 2013 Evidence-Based Dentistry Champions Conference, a dentist must live and practice in the United States and be directly involved in treating dental patients. Champions will be selected through an application process.

For more information and to apply, visit EBD Conference . Registration for chosen applicants is $125 for ADA members and $225 for nonmembers. Champions will earn 11 to 14 hours of continuing education credit.