Article

A systematic review of oral health outcomes produced by dental teams incorporating midlevel providers

Dr. Wright is the Bawden Distinguished Professor and the chair, Department of Pediatric Dentistry, School of Dentistry, The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He also is the immediate past chair, Council on Scientific Affairs, American Dental Association, Chicago.
Journal of the American Dental Association (1939) (Impact Factor: 2.01). 01/2013; 144(1):75-91. DOI: 10.14219/jada.archive.2013.0017
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT

Background. The authors conducted a systematic review on this research question: "In populations where nondentists conduct diagnostic, treatment planning, and/or irreversible/surgical dental procedures, is there a change in disease increment, untreated dental disease, and/or cost-effectiveness of dental care?" Methods. The authors searched 12 electronic databases for articles published through February 2012 and hand searched relevant articles. They assessed the risk of bias of included studies and extracted data. Results. The authors screened 7,701 citations, resulting in 18 observational studies that met the inclusion criteria. They judged 13 of the studies to be at high risk of bias, five at moderate risk and one at low risk. The authors found no data regarding cost effectiveness, irreversible diagnostic procedures or diseases other than caries. Conclusions. The authors concluded that the quality of the evidence was poor. They found that in select groups in which participants received irreversible dental treatment from teams that included midlevel providers, caries increment, caries severity or both decreased across time; however, there was no difference in caries increment, caries severity or both compared with those in populations in which dentists provided all irreversible treatment. In select groups in which participants had received irreversible dental treatment from teams that included midlevel providers, there was a decrease in untreated caries across time and a decrease in untreated caries compared with that in populations in which dentists provided all treatment. Clinical Implications. Generalizability of results to populations other than those studied is limited owing to the age of some of the studies, as well as to clinical and methodological heterogeneity; consequently, the conclusions should be viewed with caution.

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