Background. Dental informatics is a relatively new field that has significant potential for supporting clinical care. Most dentists are unaware of what dental informatics is, what its goals are, what it has achieved and how they can get involved in it. Methods. The authors conducted a literature review and several round-table discussions with dental informatics experts to discuss the preceding issues surrounding dental informatics. Results. Dental informatics is the application of computer and information sciences to improve dental practice, research, education and management. Numerous applications that support clinical care, education and research have been developed. Dental informatics is beginning to exhibit the characteristics of a discipline: core literature, trained specialists and educational programs. Conclusions. Dental informatics presents possible solutions to many long-standing problems in dentistry, but it also faces significant obstacles and challenges. Its maturation will depend as much on the efforts of people as on the collective efforts of the profession. Practice Implications. Dental informatics will produce an increasing number of applications and tools for clinical practice. Dentists must keep up with these developments to make informed choices.
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