The editorial in the June issue of the AJO-DO provided ample food for thought.
The advent of the “digital age” has quite literally revolutionized the accessibility of information available at our fingertips. Although the Internet provides a vast trove of information on any subject of eclectic interest, the onus of verifying and validating the data obtained is often incumbent upon the reader, who must endeavor to separate the “grain from the chaff.” Orthodontics as a specialty is also not immune to this phenomenon. Today, our specialty boasts no less than 6 journals of international repute and many more regional and online issues devoted to furthering the cause of research in orthodontics. Herein lies the problem.
The average clinician lacks the time to browse through the sheer volume of published information. Clinicians are routinely confronted with numerous confounding clinical challenges in this litigious era that require them to make well-informed evidence-based decisions in daily practice. To this end, Cochrane reviews might serve the purpose by bridging the gap to aid busy clinicians in making good decisions based on credible evidence in the better interests of their patients. However, we would like to raise 2 major issues: First, Cochrane Oral Health Group reviews and subsequent updates take a long time to complete from protocol to publication (23 months on average). Second, a perusal of reviews from 2011 to date by Cochrane shows a dearth of high-quality evidence required to reliably support or refute the problems being investigated or shows that here is no reliable evidence and that more research was required. More recent studies that have evaluated sample-size calculations in RCTs published in various dental and orthodontic journals have reported this aspect as consistently suboptimal. Although we are fully supportive of RCTs and the reasons for doing them, the need of the hour is to improve the quality of orthodontic research. Please do not misconstrue this as an attempt to criticize the many thousands of researchers who tirelessly and unselfishly devote their time to the cause of improved health care.
In this light, the efforts of Drs Turpin, Behrents, and Abdelkarim are to be lauded for their perspicacious attempt to create a 1-stop cone-beam computed tomography resource center. We fervently hope that this endeavor will eventually extend to include other controversial areas in the orthodontic domain, making it a source of ready reference for busy practitioners.