Over the last century we have learned to base our clinical decisions on good science and trust science more than we trust our own personal impressions. We have learned how to judge scientific publications and trust those who follow simple rules of how to design, perform and analyze the results of those studies. We learn how to do it in dental schools, graduate programs, scientific meetings and advanced courses. We have also learned that sometimes these may be influenced by commercial companies that support studies aimed at promoting their products.
This is especially true as to our choices of dental collagen barrier membranes. Although these are implantable biologic materials, most of the commercially available collagen membranes do not have any scientific support – zero number of publications in peer reviewed journals. Only three membranes are supported by more than twenty publications and only two membranes have over thirty publications. Among these publications very few are comparable studies.
Is this important? Would you agree to have a biologic material implanted in your body without overwhelming scientific evidence of its safety and efficacy? Probably not. Our patients trust us to make the best choices as to materials that we use in their mouth, especially those who are irreversibly implanted in their oral tissues.
What can dentists do? Before choosing a dental barrier membrane for your GBR / GTR procedures search PubMed (U.S National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health) or Google Scholar under the brand name of membranes that were offered to you by sales reps. If you do not find high quality scientific publications in top rated journals, ask the sales reps to supply the references. Make sure that these are not case reports or case series only. Check who sponsored the publications and make sure that there are several publications from multiple study groups.