Hamilton IA (1977), A Plea for Comprehensiveness in Dental Research, Operative Dentistry, 2(4) 129.
A Plea for Comprehensiveness in Dental Research
Dental practitioners are helped greatly by published reports of scientific research. This is true especially of the testing of materials and the evaluation of techniques. Although a practicing dentist may be able, in a relatively short time, to determine for himself whether or not a particular material or technique is performing satisfactorily, often several years may elapse before deficiencies become evident. Then begins the painful process of replacing restorations-a costly procedure for both dentist and patient.
The introduction of new materials and techniques provides a welcome challenge for researchers. Frequently several laboratories begin simultaneously, though perhaps with different methods, to investigate the same problem. Not unnaturally there is a desire to be the first to report results. Sometimes haste overshadows thoroughness and results are reported that later are contradicted by more careful studies. This does little to help the clinician, who is now confused by the conflicting results.
In other instances, a number of materials designed for the same purpose, silver alloys for example, may be compared for a single property, which may be only one of several that are significant for the success of the material. This information of itself is not of much use to the practitioner, who must wait until the evaluations of the other properties have been completed and published. Unfortunately, the information is now fragmented and requires the reader to search back through the literature if he can find all the articles-to obtain the information he needs to decide which material or technique to use. Conversely, all the appropriate tests of all the significant properties of a material may be undertaken but only two out of ten brands analyzed. In this instance, though it may be possible to determine which material is better, one is left with the nagging thought that one of the materials not tested may be the best.
This a plea for more comprehensiveness and greater thoroughness in dental research and publication. Undoubtedly this would require more time and effort for each project but reliable information-the only useful kind-still comes slowly.
A IAN HAMILTON