Editor's note: This is the third article in a series that celebrates the diversity of career paths in dentistry and the Association's efforts in supporting dentists' career choices in the profession.
From examining the connections between oral and overall health to evaluating the behavior of materials used in dentistry, researchers ask the questions and do the work to inform how dentists care for their patients every day.
"Dentistry is an amazing profession that has offered so many of us the opportunity to improve patients' lives. It is critical that we continue to evolve and expand our understanding of the diseases and conditions that affect our patients and continue to work to optimize the treatments that they receive," said Mia Geisinger, D.D.S., professor and director of the Advanced Education Program in Periodontology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Dentistry. "My goal in research is always to change the way that we treat patients for the better, and while the pace of scientific discovery may be incremental, we continually strive to improve oral and overall health for all."
The American Dental Association recognizes the importance of research — like Dr. Geisinger's on the impact of periodontal disease and treatment on overall health — to the practice of dentistry. One of its core values is to be a science- and evidence-based organization, a goal that is supported by the ADA Science & Research Institute, which conducts research and produces evidence-based resources for dentists.
"Scientific research is so important to the health and advancement of the dental profession. That's why I'm really proud of the work ADASRI does," said Marcelo Araujo, D.D.S., Ph.D., chief science officer of the ADA and CEO of ADASRI. "At ADASRI, our work runs the gamut of scientific research — everything from basic science, like the creation of novel dental materials, to applied science that tests and refines dental materials, to clinical and translational research that communicates that basic and applied science in a way that is easy to implement chairside. As a whole, the work of ADASRI’s researchers, and really the work of all dental researchers, has a profound impact on improving dentistry."
The ADA also has two scientific journals: The Journal of the American Dental Association and JADA Foundational Science.
"The ADA continues to demonstrate its strong commitment to the health sciences through many avenues, including the dissemination of basic, translational and clinical research through its journals and other media offerings," said Jack L. Ferracane, Ph.D., editor-in-chief of JADA Foundational Science. "It all boils down to creating new and better pathways to oral health, and we all find it exciting and gratifying to play our different roles in the process that links discovery to successful clinical care."
A New Day for Dentistry, a campaign launched by ADA President Cesar R. Sabates, D.D.S., celebrates the ADA’s diverse community of dentists by recognizing their personal differences and the varied career paths they have chosen within the profession.
"Researchers are essential members of the dental workforce," Dr. Sabates said. "Clinicians strive to provide the best care they can to their patients, and researchers provide the evidence they need to make informed decisions. Their work also helps to expand dentistry’s knowledge base, driving innovation and advancement in our profession. The contributions of researchers have a lasting impact on all facets of oral health care."