Methodically performed and deeply researched, systematic reviews are welcome additions to our ongoing education. We are presented with an integral part of our ever-continuing education with the eye-opening subject material that is focused on where we have been in oral implantology/implant dentistry and where we are today.
The epitome of systematic reviews is the meta-analysis. These culled, calibrated, and analyzed reviews are an essential part of the educational process that brings into focus for all, clinicians and researchers and academicians and practitioners, where we have been and where we are. These published articles are subject specific. They require, on the part of the author(s), a disciplined construct and subsequent analysis.
Systematic reviews are both a distillation and a consensus of the literature on a specific subject. For example, dental implant coatings are constantly being examined, researched, and promoted year after year, if not month after month. The journey of this subject is presented in an article titled “Role of Osteogenic Coatings on Implant Surfaces in Promoting Bone-To-Implant Contact in Experimental Osteoporosis: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.”1
Another subject that is of particular interest to the clinician is that of intraoral scanners. An article titled “Digital Implant Impression Technique Accuracy: A Systematic Review”2 addresses this useful tool for the practitioner. In essence, the homework on this evolving subject has been done for us. Some reviews are quite candid with potential shortcomings such as within the conclusion of the article “Dental Implants in Patients Receiving Chemotherapy: A Meta-Analysis,”3 “The reliability and validity of the data collected and the potential for biases and confounding factors are some of the shortcomings of the present study.” Such a conclusion, drawn with a very candid approach to a null hypothesis, is invaluable.
Databases such as PubMed, Cochrane Database, Google Scholar, EMBASE, MEDLINE, and others have been trolled. Flow charts, especially PRISMA (preferred reporting items for systematic reviews and meta-analyses) charts have been formulated. The conclusions derived from all of this “digging” may be supportive of what we had read in individual articles, or they negate our long-held views, which were based on what we heard or what we were told.
The importance of well-done systematic reviews was underscored by Dr. Gordon Christensen in a scientific main podium presentation on January 22, 2015, at the ICOI meeting in Orlando, FL. His topic was “Root Form Dental Implants: Where are we now?” Well, look at a well-written systematic review and we will be brought through the “where we were” and the “where we are.”
As we had stated in an editorial 8 years ago,4 “Combine literature reviews with clinically accessible articles, and include current research that provides evidence-based materials, and then we have a winning combination of continuing education.”
1. Ghanem A, Kellesarian SV, Abduljabbar T, et al. Role of osteogenic coatings on implant surfaces in promoting bone-to-implant contact in experimental osteoporosis: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Impl Dent. 2017;26:770–777.
2. Alikhasi M, Alsharbaty MH, Moharrami M. Digital implant impression technique accuracy: A systematic review. Impl Dent. 2017;26:929–935.
3. Chrcanovic BR, Albrektsson T, Wennerberg A. Dental implants in patients receiving chemotherapy: A meta-analysis. Impl Dent. 2016;25:261–271.
4. Perel ML. Literature reviews, boring or necessary. Impl Dent. 2010;19:175.