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Supporting Your Practice

NLS 2020 – The Poor Cousin Revisited – A Plea to Raise the Bar

In this sixth and final presentation from the Northern Lights Symposium 2020, Dr. Brian Darvell, Honorary Professor at the School of Dentistry, University of Birmingham, UK, bursts the bubble around academic publishing in dentistry and issues a firm plea to raise the bar.

In this candid discussion, Dr. Darvell cites his own experience in reviewing hundreds of academic papers as he challenges the standards of modern-day teaching and peer review, and gives concrete suggestions on how the dental profession can raise the bar to protect their own credibility and the greater good.

We hope you find the conversation useful. We welcome your thoughts, questions and/or suggestions about this post and other topics. Leave a comment in the box below or send us your feedback by email.

Until next time!
CDA Oasis Team

On The Northern Lights Symposium

The Northern Lights Symposium (NLS) is an international dental gathering focussed on the sciences and research in dental materials. The symposium was founded by Dr. Richard Price, Professor in the Department of Dental Clinical Sciences at Dalhousie University.

Since 2012, experts in dental restorative materials from North and South America, Australasia, the Middle East, and  Europe have been convening at Dalhousie University, Halifax, to discuss advances in dental restorative materials and light curing technology.

This year, due to restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Northern Lights Symposium successfully pivoted to a 3-day online format, featuring six diverse presentations on cutting-edge topics:

Full Presentation (16.59")

Session 3 Discussion (54.15")

1 Comment

  1. John O'Keefe September 11, 2020

    This has come to my attention and I am posting it as an ‘anonymous’ comment. JO’K

    To Brian Darvell:

    I heard your comments regarding the low level of dental research. I fully agree with the sentiment you courageously voiced. From the outset, let me state that I am a full-time practicing clinician and hence my ability to judge the technical merits of research is virtually non-existent. When I need advice on a topic, I am fortunate to have a university-based Ph.D. buddy that will give me the “goods” on any particular topic.

    Not too long ago, he provided aid on the subject of occlusion. I had read some articles regarding “Occlusal Disease”. I attended a live lecture at our annual regional convention where a dentist, who has an institute named after himself, was granted an entire day to speak about “Occlusal Disease” and how he is curing it with his proprietary designed appliances. His thesis is, a “restricted airway” causes bruxism… which causes misalignment of some “Cranial-Sacral” complex…this alters proper balance and shifts the body’s center of gravity forward resulting in “blow-out of the knee joints” and “ultimate knee replacement”. He shows a video of a patient that can barely walk. An appliance is pop into the mouth and miraculously the patient now dances down the hallway … I kid you not.

    This came with testimonial praise reminiscent of a religious revival meeting. I was angered that our association would first, allow this speaker… and second, pay him handsomely out of dues I provide. Regrettably most in attendance were enthralled. Or perhaps stupefied. I had thought of voicing my opinion but remained silent.

    I recalled a large Crown and Bridge Study club meeting in the 80s, where I argued with a speaker that Applied Kinesiology (testing strength of one’s outstretched arm while increasing the interarch vertical dimension) had no basis in science. I was immediately ejected from the meeting. Lesson learned. Never miss an opportunity to say nothing.

    Yes, I know of Bruxism and its effects, and I am familiar with the many pain issues that are related to TMJ and related structures. I called my Ph.D. buddy and asked if I had missed something since graduation decades ago. I asked plainly, “ Is there a new accepted category of illness termed Occlusal Disease” in the scientific literature? He laughed. And then went on to explain the problems with poor research and poorly refereed publications. Add to this, a wave of non-refereed publications flooding the market.

    My expertise is in clinical dentistry. To those that listen, I try to emphasize attention to detail and the use of appropriate materials that will last decades. Sadly the dental market has succumb to Quick-fix Veneeradontists and unproven high-tech wizardry promoted by dental manufacturing concerns. Furthermore, I would be remiss if I failed to mention the quackery of Applied Kinesiology and/or Homeopathy and/or Naturopathic Nuttiness that some colleagues ascribe to as a consequence of self-delusion, greed and/or downright stupidity.

    On a second Northern Lights presentation, remarks were made regarding a survey asking dentists to identify their preferred source of information on which treatment is to be based. Top Answer….The Internet. Sadly, with little concern for the potential for misinformation, if not outright deceit.

    Deep Thought:
    I saw a lecture by world-renowned physicist Freeman Dyson a few years back. He spoke about living through the computer revolution. He claimed that in 2000, computer power was such that it became cheaper to store information than understand it. I am fond of saying, “people confuse information retrieval with understanding”.

    Freeman further noted that the amount of data is astronomical…that we are drowning in “an ocean” of information. He claimed an individual’s task is “to make islands of meaning from this ocean of information”.

    The Postmodern ethos of Individual Relativism is here to stay. Objective Science must now take a back seat to Personal Narratives as one’s guiding light. And thus the assured ascendance of 3 second-bulk-cure-composite, regardless of the science.

    Us Old Guys are past-due. One engenders enemies in the fight against mediocrity.

    Hence Signed… Anonymous


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