CDA President Dr. Peter Doig has once again raised a very important debate1, one that has raged for decades within our profession—access to oral care. In responding to Dr. Don Mulcahy’s comments, Dr. Doig indicated that, “a NOHS will provide a blueprint for programming that can deliver oral health care…” and added that “our profession alone cannot solve all of society’s oral health care deficiencies.”
But why not? Before admitting defeat, shouldn’t our profession conduct a thorough soul-searching with regard to its own clinical procedures? I invite readers to consult my editorial2 regarding the FDI Vision 2020 document. In it, I indicate that dentistry standards need to catch up with those of medicine through practice-based research. Here is a tangible initiative that we can champion with a view to increasing our credibility. And we should ensure that peer-reviewed, practice-based research is eligible for tax credits!
Before calling for public funds to finance Canadians’ access to oral care, we should ensure that our treatments respect the standards for evidence-based practice. This is currently the case for fewer than 10% of our dental procedures. We should be drawing on the vast quantities of clinical data currently gathering dust in our offices, as the Scandinavians and our colleagues to the south have been doing for a long time now.
Furthermore, dentistry is one of the only professions that does not require a postgraduate apprenticeship, governed by the profession itself. Among other things, such an apprenticeship could initiate the future practitioner into the benefits of practice-based research, with the pooling of our knowledge and daily procedures.
Also, steps should be taken to bring the Quebec Dental Surgeons Association into the CDA fold. Until that happens, dentistry in Canada will remain fragmented, and therefore weakened, in the eyes of the governments involved.
In memory of my days as a student representative at the University of Montreal more than 40 years ago, and as a member of CDA today, I sincerely hope that our national association will exhibit greater leadership in the area of practice-based research, so that we can all succeed together in increasing the credibility of our profession.