The benefits of Cochrane reviews: The intent is to help dental clinicians reach decisions

Dec. 13, 2016
Christine Nathe points out that the systematic reviews by Cochrane help dental professionals evaluate treatment options.

By Christine Nathe, RDH, MS

Many dental hygienists may not be aware of an excellent resource for evidence-based reviews called Cochrane. publishes systematic reviews of existing research, which can be very helpful when gathering data and developing public health initiatives that are based on current evidence. Cochrane is a not-for-profit organization with researchers from over 120 countries collaborating to produce credible, accessible health information that is free from commercial sponsorship and other conflicts of interest.

A systematic review is basically a summary of the results of published well-designed clinical trials. The data from these trials are pooled together in a meta-analysis for a comprehensive analysis.

The mission of the Cochrane organization is to promote evidence-informed health decision-making by producing accessible systematic reviews. The latest strategic plan for Cochrane, Strategy to 2020, strives to promote Cochrane evidence at the heart of health decision-making all over the world. The goals are listed in Table 1.

Cochrane reviews were in the news not too long ago when people were searching for evidence of flossing benefits. Cochrane's latest publications include a review that provides low evidence that initiatives that include oral health education with supervised toothbrushing or professional preventive oral care can reduce dental caries in children. Cost-effectiveness and long-term sustainability were not widely reported by study authors, which is a limitation in published community-based efforts.

Another recent review on fluoride mouth rinses confirmed that supervised regular use of fluoride mouth rinse can reduce tooth decay in children and adolescents. Additionally, little information was found about side effects or how well children are able to cope with the use of mouth rinses.

These reviews are recent examples of what's available on Cochrane is an excellent source of systemic reviews with meta-analysis, which can help dental hygienists when they're developing solutions to improve oral health. RDH

Source: Much of this information was taken directly from Please visit to search for systematic reviews on oral health.

Goals of Cochrane

  • Goal 1: To produce evidence-To produce high-quality, relevant, up-to-date systematic reviews and other synthesized research evidence to help health-care professionals make informed health decisions.
  • Goal 2: To make our evidence accessible-To make Cochrane evidence accessible and useful to everybody, everywhere in the world.
  • Goal 3: To advocate for evidence-To make Cochrane the "home of evidence" for informed health decision-making, to build greater recognition of our work, and to become the leading advocate for evidence-informed health care.
  • Goal 4: To build an effective and sustainable organization-To be a diverse, inclusive, and transparent international organization that effectively harnesses the enthusiasm and skills of our contributors. It will be guided by our principles, governed accountably, managed efficiently, and will make optimal use of its resources.

CHRISTINE NATHE, RDH, MS, is director at the University of New Mexico, Division of Dental Hygiene, in Albuquerque, N.M. She is also the author of "Dental Public Health Research" (, which is in its third edition with Pearson. She can be reached at [email protected] or (505) 272-8147.