High-quality research should form the basis of all clinical practice. Randomized controlled trials currently provide the gold standard for investigating the effectiveness of treatment interventions and these are increasingly being used in orthodontics. Here we discuss the reasons why this form of investigation provides the most useful evidence for assessing treatment outcome. The methods available to achieve true randomization, a fundamental component in the design of these trials, are also discussed. In addition, we focus on how to minimize bias in clinical research, not only during the design and management of a trial, but also when disseminating results. We focus on the importance of using control groups correctly and describe methods that are available to adequately power a trial. Finally, we emphasise the importance of accurate and transparent reporting, which facilitates correct communication and assessment of the evidence.