Abstract: The "digitization" of dental practice is rapidly progressing, but there is a large gap between the clinical and administrative use of computers. Almost all dental practices have a computer, but only a minute fraction of general dentists (1.8%) use it in the operatory. Challenges to improving oral health include documenting patient care, translating best evidence into practice, advancing knowledge through practice-based research and going beyond "drill-and-fill." Most patient documentation is incidental, incomplete, fragmented and recorded after the appointment, making it difficult to use it for research and quality improvement. Despite an ever-increasing quantity of evidence-based resources, it is difficult for practitioners to access these resources in an efficient, timely and easy manner during patient care. While the NIDCR has initiated practice-based research in dentistry, only a small number of dentists are aware of this initiative, and many fewer participate in it. Going beyond "drill-and-fill" requires a wholesale shift in how practitioners learn about and use the latest advances emerging from dental and craniofacial research. Yet, technologically, the opportunities for addressing these needs and problems have never been greater. This presentation will review how selected dental informatics research projects can help solve some long-standing problems in dental research and practice. Join the "dental informatics revolution" by becoming a member of the Dental Informatics Online Community, participating in dental informatics research, completing an online dental informatics certificate or getting an advanced degree in dental informatics. The sky is the limit!
Keywords:dental informatics; research; oral health; challenges; patient records; evidence-based dentistry; practice-based research networks; decision making; education; training