Biomedical informatics is a maturing discipline. During the last forty years, it has developed into a research discipline of significant scale and scope. One of its subdisciplines, dental informatics, is beginning to emerge as its own entity. While there is a growing cadre of trained dental informaticians, dental faculty and administrators in general are not very familiar with dental informatics as an area of scientific inquiry. Many confuse informatics with information technology (IT), are unaware of its scientific methods and principles, and cannot relate dental informatics to biomedical informatics as a whole. This article delineates informatics from information technology and explains the types of scientific questions that dental and other informaticians typically explore. Scientific investigation in informatics centers primarily on model formulation, system development, system implementation, and the study of effects. Informatics draws its scientific methods mainly from information science, computer science, cognitive science, and telecommunications. Dental informatics shares many types of research questions and methods with its parent discipline, biomedical informatics. However, there are indications that certain research questions in dental informatics require novel solutions that have not yet been developed in other informatics fields.
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