Derek Richards

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Derek Richards is a specialist in dental public health, Director of the Centre for Evidence-Based Dentistry and Specialist Advisor to the Scottish Dental Clinical Effectiveness Programme (SDCEP) Development Team. A former editor of the Evidence-Based Dentistry Journal and chief blogger for the Dental Elf website until December 2023. Derek has been involved with a wide range of evidence-based initiatives both nationally and internationally since 1994. Derek retired from the NHS in 2019 remaining as a part-time senior lecturer at Dundee Dental School until the end of 2023.


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Plaque accumulation with clear aligners and fixed orthodontic appliances


This review comparing plaque accumulation in orthodontic patients undergoing clear aligner (CA) and conventional fixed appliance treatment included 14 studies. The findings suggested less plaque accumulation with CA but all the included studies were at moderate to high risk of bias.

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Extraction or non-extraction treatment and orthodontic outcomes

iStock_000002259334XSmall braces on teeth

This review of premolar extraction v non-extraction orthodontic treatment included 30 studies. Of these studies were 29 were retrospective and all 30 studies were considered to be at high risk of bias. The certainty of evidence is vey low so additional high quality research is required.

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Coronectomy for lower third molar surgery


This review of coronectomy versus extraction of third molars in patients at increased risk of inferior alveolar nerve (IAN) injuries included 42 observational studies. The findings indicate lower a reduction in the odds of IAN sensory loss in favour of coronectomy and an increase in the odds of surgical reintervention.

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Cement-or screw-retained implant-supported prostheses and peri-implant disease


This review comparing the incidence of peri-implant disease with cement- and screw-retained prostheses included 6 RCTs. The findings suggest no difference in level of peri-implant disease with cement- or screw retained prosthesis. However, the studies are small none of them are at low risk of bias. Consequently the findings should be interpreted cautiously.

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Low level laser therapy for burning mouth syndrome


This review to evaluate the effect of low-level laser therapy (LLLT) on burning pain, quality of life, and negative emotions in patients with burning mouth syndrome included 14 RCTs only two of which were at low risk of bias.While the findinds suggest that LLLT has a positive effect the quality of evidence means the findings should be interpreted cautiously.

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Recurrent aphthous stomatitis – topical medications


This review of different topical medications for the management of recurrent aphthous stomatitis (RAS) included 43 RCTs. No significant differences were found for any if the treatments assessed and a majority of the included RCTs (76%) were considered to be at high risk of bias.

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Vitamin D and dental caries risk in children


This review of the association between higher dental caries experience and lower serum vitamin D levels in children included 13 studie. The findings suggest higher levels of caries in patients with lower vitamin D levels.

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Edentulism in diabetics compared to non-diabetics


This review of the prevalence of edentulism among diabetic patients compared to non-diabetic people included 7 cross-sectional studies. The findings suggest a higher level of edentulism in diabetic patients but the findings should be interpreted cautiously.

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Metal or fibre posts for restoration of endodontically treated teeth?


This review of the comparative efficacy of fibre and metal posts used for the restoration of endodontically treated teeth included 25 RCTs. The findings suggest that fibre post performe better than metal posts but the findings should be interpreted with caution.

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Fixed orthodontic bonded retainers – failure rates


This review assessing the prevalence of failure of both maxillary and mandibular fixed orthodontic bonded retainers (FOBRs) included 34 studies. The findings incicate an overall failure rate of 28.17% (23.19 to 33.15%) based on 31 studies. However the certainty of the evidence was very low to low so the findings should be interpreted cautiously.

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