Methods dentists use to diagnose primary caries lesions prior to restorative treatment: Findings from the Dental PBRN

Academic Article


  • Objective: To (1) quantify the diagnostic techniques used by Dental Practice-Based Research Network (DPBRN) dentists before they decide to treat primary caries lesions surgically and (2) examine whether certain dentist, practice, and patient characteristics are associated with their use. Methods: A total of 228 DPBRN dentists recorded information on 5676 consecutive restorations inserted due to primary caries lesions on 3751 patients. Practitioner-investigators placed a mean of 24.9 (SD = 12.4) restorations. Lesions were categorised as posterior proximal, anterior proximal, posterior occlusal, posterior smooth, or anterior smooth. Techniques used to diagnose the lesion were categorised as clinical assessment, radiographs, and/or optical. Statistical analysis utilised generalised mixed-model ANOVA to account for the hierarchical structure of the data. Results: By lesion category, the diagnostic technique combinations used most frequently were clinical assessment plus radiographs for posterior proximal (47%), clinical assessment for anterior proximal (51%), clinical assessment for posterior occlusal (46%), clinical assessment for posterior smooth (77%), and clinical assessment for anterior smooth (80%). Diagnostic technique was significantly associated with lesion category after adjusting for clustering in dentists (p < 0.0001). Conclusion: These results - obtained during actual clinical procedures rather than from questionnaire-based hypothetical scenarios - quantified the diagnostic techniques most commonly used during the actual delivery of routine restorative care. Diagnostic technique varied by lesion category and with certain practice and patient characteristics. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.
  • Authors

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    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Rindal DB; Gordan VV; Litaker MS; Bader JD; Fellows JL; Qvist V; Wallace-Dawson MC; Anderson ML; Gilbert GH
  • Start Page

  • 1027
  • End Page

  • 1032
  • Volume

  • 38
  • Issue

  • 12