Dr. Partha Mukherji

Dr. Partha Mukherji

When it comes to oral health there is a lot of misinformation circulating in the public imagination. What’s the best course of action when a patient makes a request or assertion that isn’t supported by science?

Dr. Partha Mukherji is a general dentist practicing in Ft. Worth, Texas, and a supporter of Evidence-Based dentistry. He spoke with New Dentist Now about strategies dentists can use when patients are misinformed about science.

New Dentist Now

Let’s start with a quick definition of Evidence-Based Dentistry

Dr. Partha Mukherji

Sure—Evidence-Based Dentistry, or EBD, is the point where scientific evidence, my expertise as a dentist and the patient’s treatment needs and preferences all intersect. EBD isn’t new, but it has received increased focus in recent years, especially as junk science has gained prominence in the public imagination.

NDN

How do you integrate EBD into your practice on a day-to-day basis?

Dr. Partha Mukherji

It starts with my team—I’ve worked to make sure that everyone in my practice is familiar with Evidence-Based-Dentistry and how to use tools such as EBD.ADA.org. The site has some quick tutorials that can help bring newcomers up-to-speed.

I think it’s also important to share this information with patients. It has always been our role to educate patients, and this adds another dimension. It moves the conversation beyond, ‘Well I’m the dentist and I say so.”

NDN

What happens when a patient presents a real challenge, such as presenting an oral health myth as fact?

Dr. Partha Mukherji

It’s a two-step process. First of all I use it as a teachable moment, to explain how I use EBD to support my decisions, and to give an overview of how I assess scientific research. I find that many patients aren’t familiar with the basics about science—for instance the difference between correlation and causation.

And second, I work to demonstrate respect for the patient’s perspective, even as I maintain respect for my own integrity as a dentist. So I might say, “I am recommending scaling and root planing as a treatment plan. If you want to research that approach independently or seek a second opinion, I support that completely. However science doesn’t support oil pulling as an alternative.” I’ve found that helps to strike a balance between the patient’s wishes and my responsibility as a clinician.

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The ADA Center for Evidence-Based Dentistry is at EBD.ADA.org