Skip to Main Content

Dental Hygiene Resources

This LibGuide is designed to help you locate and use a variety of reliable sources for ICC's Dental Hygiene program courses.

EBD: a step-by-step process

The Centre for Evidence-Based Dentistry Oxford outlines 5 steps to the EBD process:

1) Question - Develop a clear, focused question based on the patient's problem

2) Find - Find cutting-edge evidence related to this problem/question

3) Appraise - Critically evaluate or appraise the evidence discovered in your search, in order to assess it's validity or relevance to your particular question

4) Act - Put the evidence in action, by proceeding with the treatment or procedure based on the research you conducted

5) Evaluation - Assess your performance and/or the treatment throughout every step to ensure that it is appropriate and successful

Ted Talk -- Ben Goldacre -- Battling Bad Science

Watch this 15 minute Ted Talk to get a very comprehensive view of the dangers of the failure to carefully evaluate medical research.

Finding research to support EBM

A crucial component of Evidence Based practice is finding information or evidence that supports a clinical practice.  Here are some recommended scholarly research databases:

  • Use the database CINAHL to find scholarly articles (from the A-Z Database List)
  • In CINAHL you can limit your search to just evidence-based practice.  To do this, scroll down (under "Limits") and select the box next to "Evidence Based Practice," then include your search terms in the boxes at the top of the page.
  • You can also include the term "evidence based practice" in your search.  Using the term "evidence based" (without practice) will yield the most results.
  • You might also consider using the National Institutes of Health's PubMed database to find scholarly, evidence based articles.
  • In PubMed, you start by entering your search terms in the search box
    • use the Advanced Search to add multiple search terms, or to use the "show index list" option to help make sure you are using keywords that will bring back optimal results
  • The real value of PubMed for evidence based article searching, however, comes up in the refining stages. 
    •   Refine your initial search results by using the limiters along the left margin.  Limiting by publication date is always important, especially in evidence based dental hygiene research, where using current, cutting-edge information is crucial.  However, the "Article Types" limit is especially useful for specifying the kinds of research articles you hope to find, such as systematic reviews, or clinical trials (remember the levels of evidence hierarchy above?).


You can also try searching specialized journals, like the Journal of Evidence Based Dental Practice.  The full text of this journal is available to ICC students and faculty through the Library's ScienceDirect database.

EBD and EBM Books

What is Evidence-Based Dental Care?

The American Dental Association's Center for Evidence-Based Dentistry defines evidence-based dental care (EBD) as an approach to oral health care that integrates:

  • systematic assessments of clinically relevant scientific evidence relating to the patients' oral and medical condition and history
  • the dental professional's clinical expertise
  • the patient's treatment needs and preferences



The application of evidence-based methods in the dental field reflects a much broader movement towards evidence-based practice across all types of health and medical-related careers.  An evidence-based practice is a treatment, methodology, or procedure that has been tested, studied, and proven effective--not just accepted blindly as a standard practice.  A large component of evidence-based practice involves research and finding up-to-date, relevant journal articles.  This section of the LibGuide will help you to understand the steps to implementing an evidence-based treatment and for finding pertinent articles and research. 


Recognizing the importance of evidence-based practice to dental hygienists, the ADHA has produced several articles on conducting and integrating research into everyday clinical dental hygiene practice.  You can read some of these articles in full here in Access.  Otherwise, here are some helpful highlights:

Using PICO to formulate your research question

Patient The first step is to consider the kinds of patient characteristics that can influence the search results or eventual treatment, including primary dental health problem or chief complaint, age, gender, race, current and past health status, and medications.
Intervention The second step is identifying the specific dental hygiene intervention you plan to implement, such as using a particular technique or product.
Comparison This third step is necessary only if you are trying to compare and contrast the effectiveness of the primary intervention with another intervention method.  If no alternative intervention method is necessary, step 3 can be omitted.
Outcome This final, crucial step focuses on the outcome, or the results of what you anticipate the intervention to accomplish, improve, or affect.  Outcomes must be measurable to be able to clearly demonstrate the impact of the intervention.  Some examples of measurable dental hygiene outcomes could include reduced enamel erosion or improved probing and recession measurements.


Once you've determined your research question using PICO, try searching for relevant research articles.  When browsing the results of your search, keep this information in mind:

Considering levels of evidence when evaluating search results

As Kathryn Battani, RDH, MS demonstrates in her Access article, "all published literature is not created equal; some research study designs are considered more credible than others."  Systematic reviews are considered the best possible evidence on which to base clinical interventions, but they appear less often in the literature than case studies and reports or editorials/expert opinions. 

As a dental hygienist (student) searching for evidence to support a particular intervention, you obviously cannot control what kinds of research designs were used to produce the studies included in the articles available to you.  However, you can keep this hierarchy in mind to help you evaluate the kinds of evidence you find.