What's your go-to source on the Internet?

June 1, 2011
When searching for the perfect soup recipe, a fashionable sweater, or what that red patch might be in your neighbor's yard ...

by Lory Laughter, RDH, BS
[email protected]

When searching for the perfect soup recipe, a fashionable sweater, or what that red patch might be in your neighbor's yard, our first stop is often the Internet. We direct patients to sites for more education to back up our recommendations and, I dare say, most of us have Googled ourselves. So it makes sense that our first stop for product information, scientific research, and professional education is the keyboard and screen. Having spent many hours staring at a 19-inch screen, a few sites have become my go-to sources.

PubMed is at the top of my list for information that is accurate, published, and verifiable. The actual web address is quite long, but www.pubmed.com will get you there. The site has become very user friendly, and you can search over 20 million citations with as few as one keyword, or set limits to narrow the number of returned documents. The keyword "fluoride" recently returned 42,534 possible matches, but adding "drinking water" decreased that number to 1,632. A more specific "fluoride drinking water primary teeth" came up with a mere 56 possibilities. My nerd side shines brightly when a night of PubMed surfing and selecting key terms nets four or fewer citations.

This may sound odd for someone who spends so much time at the computer, but I actually like getting journals and professional magazines in print. I have my professional magazines delivered to the office to share with the team. When I need a journal reference at home, my best source is www.dentistryiq.com. Not only can I access all PennWell publications with the click of a mouse, there is an entire community of knowledge at my fingertips.

DentistryIQ has something for every team member on its home page. The site is especially helpful when searching for product information and current dental news. An interesting news topic recently concerned the Irish Dental Association requiring dentists to post private fees in a place where patients can see them before a consultation. I am not sure price is the best way to choose a dentist, but I find the concept of comparison shopping interesting.

No discussion of online resources would be complete without mentioning www.amyrdh.com or Amy's List. A couple of ways to participate in this active community are as a lister or lurker. When visiting AmyRDH.com, you can join the email list of 5,800 hygienists across the globe, post questions or opinions anonymously on the forum, or join the new interactive social community. If you post questions to the email group, you can count on several replies ranging from scientific/clinical evidence to opinion. Stories of success, triumph, and office horror are shared, and advice is doled out along with congratulations or condolences. More than one RDH credits Amy's List with extending or saving his or her career.

Recent attention in dentistry has been focused on caries control and CAMBRA. One of the best websites for resources and practice information related to dental caries is www.whollymolar.com. While it is specifically a site for Dr. Brian Novy's students at Loma Linda School of Dentistry, it offers a dental professional tab that makes it worth the time and effort to explore. My suggestion is to click on the far right tab titled "For Dental Professionals," and study the first two links on the page.

Dr. Novy shares all the references used in his popular lectures, along with suggestions you can use today in your office to treat tooth decay – preferably before a restoration is necessary. The list of references is informative and entertaining, a pattern I would suggest for every course handout. The site offers much more than these two items, but these alone are worth many visits.

Opinion, preference, and stage of professional development shape what Internet resources best fit our needs at any given time. While taking a few moments to glance at my recommendations, please feel free to email me your top choice. Sharing is how we learn ... and it provides me with new chances to indulge my nerdish traits.

Lory Laughter, RDH, BS, practices clinically in Napa, Calif. She is owner of Dental IQ, a business responsible for the Annual Napa Dental Experience. Lory combines her love for travel with speaking nationally on a variety of topics.

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