Dental practitioner-investigators set to begin study

Dental practitioner-investigators set to begin study  GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Nearly 40 Florida and Georgia dentists participating in the federally-funded Dental Practice-based Research Network (Dental PBRN) attended the network’s first annual meeting Jan. 5 & 6 in Gainesville, Fla.

The meeting was held to prepare the dentists to serve as practitioner-investigators in conducting the network’s first practice-based study, titled,“Reasons for placing the first restoration on an unrestored permanent tooth surface.” It is anticipated that as many as 40 private practices will participate in gathering clinical data for the study.

The Dental PBRN is one of three practice-based networks supported by $75-million in funding from National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIH/NIDCR). The awards were made to establish regional practice-based clinical research networks to investigate with scientific rigor the everyday issues faced by dentists in their practices.

NIDCR’s intent is that each of the three regional dental practice based clinical research networks will involve 100 or more practicing dentists and/or hygienists from at least two states to be trained as practitioner-investigators for participation in each research project. This approach enables the network to draw from a diverse patient base to better address a broad spectrum of racial, ethnic, and socio-economic factors that dental professionals encounter every day in their offices. The practitioner-investigators will draw from their own clinical practice patient base to investigate practical, real-world issues and generate data that will be of immediate interest to practitioners and their patients.

The Dental PBRN, led by the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Dentistry and the University of Florida, received $25.35 million from the award to establish a network to conduct dental practice-based research over a seven-year period. As many as 13 research studies are in the final stages of development or have been approved in concept by the Dental PBRN steering committee.

The Dental PBRN network has recruited hundreds of practitioner-investigators from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Minnesota, Oregon, and Scandinavia who will conduct approximately 15 to 20 clinical studies over the next seven years, comparing the benefits of different dental procedures, dental materials, and prevention strategies under a range of patient and clinical conditions. Anonymous chart reviews to generate retrospective data on disease, treatment trends, and the prevalence of less common oral conditions may also be conducted.

Details of the Dental PBRN have been published on the network’s Web page at, which will be updated regularly as the work progresses.