Helping gather practice-based evidence through the National Dental PBRN

Round table discussion: Members of the National Dental Practice-Based Research Network discuss their projects at an annual meeting of Southwest region practitioners in San Antonio in February 2013. Participants are, from left, Dr. Michelle Martin, Houston; Dr. Dena Fischer, Bethesda, Md.; Kim Lovell, a dental hygienist, Mesa, Ariz.; Dr. Leonard Kinateder, Killeen, Texas; Dr. Malcolm Ray Scott, Austin, Texas; and Dr. Melissa Nevid, Austin, Texas. 

Birmingham, Ala.—New opportunities exist through the National Dental Practice-Based Research Network for dentists to gather evidence that may have chairside significance.

Dental practice-based research networks are the investigative union of practicing dentists and academic scientists who propose and participate in research studies addressing oral health care. The intent is to expand the profession’s evidence base through studies involving data collected in dental offices.

“We continue to be very impressed by the input that we receive from practitioners,” said Dr. Gregg Gilbert, network director and chair of the department of clinical and community sciences at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. “This input has come enthusiastically at every step of the study development process—from idea generation, to study design, to design of the data collection forms, to study implementation, all to be done in busy clinical practices.”

Before consolidation in 2012, three regional PBRNs coexisted under separate principal investigators. The three were the Dental Practice-Based Research Network; Practitioners Engaged in Applied Research and Learning; and Northwest Practice-Based Research Collaborative in Evidence-Based Dentistry. They operated with separate funding and support from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research.


NIDCR supports the new streamlined network, based at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, with a seven-year, $66.8 million grant.

Dentists nationwide can become network practitioners and have their practice participate in a network study—or even propose research. Dr. Sonia Makhija, an associate professor at UAB and network director of communications and dissemination, points out that dentists who were part of the three separate PBRNs must rejoin the united organization if they want to continue participation.

“You weren’t grandfathered in,” Dr. Makhija said. “So if you were in one of the previous networks, you still have to join the new network.”

Launched or soon-to-be launched projects include a cracked tooth registry, a questionnaire about isolation techniques used during root canal treatment, a study on suspicious occlusal carious lesions, and one about dentin hypersensitivity. Under the new national model, participating members also can earn continuing education credits.

The network will also host a three-hour program at ADA 2014—America’s Dental Meeting, Oct. 9 in San Antonio.

To enroll, visit More information also is available through the network’s social media platforms on Facebook, Twitter (@DentalPBRN), LinkedIn and YouTube.

For more information, visit and search for National Dental Practice-Based Research Network.

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