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Dental Hygiene

Searching Pubmed

Use a library link for Pubmed, particularly if you’re off campus

Make sure you’re in Pubmed and not PMC

DON’T pay for an article. Order through ILL



DON’T use “natural language”

DON’T abbreviate

DON’T use general search words like “comparison”, “cause”, or “versus”

DON’T apply limiters unless you need to

DON’T get too specific too quickly

Think about the variables in your question for initial search words. Is it more important to find specifics based on things related to the “P” or the “I”?

Type of tooth (molar, incisor, etc.) is usually one of the least helpful words to search

Make sure your terms are working the way you want them to.

Pubmed does weird things because of the way it runs MeSH in the background. For example, using the term “resin” actually searches for “plant resins” in addition to being a keyword while “composite resin” or “resin composite” searches for dental materials.



Some limiters need to be turned on and/or added

DON’T use the “Free full text” limiter

Limit by “Article Type” first (high level evidence: systematic review, meta-analysis, RCT)

“Review” is usually not the same as “Systematic Review”


Boolean Logic (AND, OR, NOT)

The default is AND

To use a Boolean in Pubmed it must be ALL CAPS (OR, NOT)

Characters like “+” cannot substitute for Booleans


If you’re having trouble, a simple way of thinking about searching in terms of PICO would be:


If that doesn’t provide good results


Details like additional details of the P or O can be added as keywords or possibly limiters if appropriate


Search History

Make sure you’re in Pubmed. If you’re in MeSH, you’ll see your MeSH history, not your actual Pubmed history

To grade them, we must be able to read and understand your searches well enough to recreate them

General Search Tips