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Year : 2014  |  Volume : 5  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 131-132

Dental research needs a new way of thinking

Department of Odontology, Orthodontics Section, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark

Date of Web Publication12-Sep-2014

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Inger Kjaer
Department of Odontology, Orthodontics Section, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/2155-8213.140586

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How to cite this article:
Kjaer I. Dental research needs a new way of thinking. Dent Hypotheses 2014;5:131-2

How to cite this URL:
Kjaer I. Dental research needs a new way of thinking. Dent Hypotheses [serial online] 2014 [cited 2023 Apr 2];5:131-2. Available from:

It is characteristic for dental research that oral diseases of different kinds have been focus subjects for many years. We have gained a tremendous insight, specifically into oral diagnostics and treatments, and we have been able to associate our findings with findings in medical research. This is very positive and hopefully this will continue.

Meanwhile, there are still several essential questions in odontology that have no clear answer at this point in time.

These questions could be:

  • What is the mechanism behind tooth eruption? Can we explain this phenomenon?
  • How and when does the periodontal membrane develop?
  • After a tooth has emerged, it continues to erupt. What happens in the periodontal membrane during this continued eruption?
  • How is continued eruption associated with growth of the alveolar process?
  • Why do some areas in the jaws frequently contain abnormalities while others do not?
  • Can we explain correlations between findings in the maxilla and the mandible?
  • Why is there such a great difference between primary and permanent teeth regarding the occurrence of agenesis, resorption, and eruption?
  • What protects a permanent tooth's root from resorption?
  • Are there similarities between the periodontal membrane of a primary tooth and the periodontal membrane of a permanent tooth?
  • Can signs in the primary dentition predict the later development of the permanent dentition?

These questions are just examples of many well-known questions in dentistry which involve both diagnostics and treatment. But why do these questions after many years remain unanswered?

One answer to this question could be that the availability of tooth and jaw tissues does not allow this type of research. The tissue cannot be removed or kept alive in order to study the developmental process. Animal studies can be conducted, but the results cannot be transferred to human conditions.

Therefore, it is important to recognize that the possibilities for dental research are very limited and nearly impossible when it comes to developmental research. If one says that the bone defect in juvenile periodontitis is not due to a bacterial breakdown (which is the common belief), but that it is caused by a lack of normal apposition of the alveolar process during puberty, then periodontologists would not believe it while orthodontists experienced in alveolar bone growth would believe it. However, it is impossible to prove this theory right or wrong.

Scientific studies are classified into two main types: hypothesis-testing and hypothesis-generating. Almost all studies in dentistry are hypothesis-testing studies, where results are proven by statistics, bacteriology, immunohistochemistry, or genetic research. Very few studies are hypothesis-generating studies. A new hypothesis requires a creative, provocative way of thinking and a researcher who dares to act like a composer, a painter, or a poet - someone who can stand the criticism that always follows a provocative viewpoint. New research requires creativity that is not restricted to the demands and limits set by the standardized requirements for modern research.

Dental Hypotheses is a forum which creates an environment for new ideas. It is platform for hypothesis-generating studies, even if these cannot be proven through the first trial.

A creative researcher may have difficulties communicating the concept of a new idea due to lack of standard research formalities. Creative research comes from momentary inspiration or from research experience gained through many years. It is not learned or guided by a teacher or university program. In this respect, Dental Hypotheses is a needed support for this type of research. The overall aim of the journal is to bridge basic research and clinical experience for better insight and improvement of treatment.

The thoughts provoked by hypothesis-generating statements aim to inspire dental research to new movements in dentistry.

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