Objective: The purposes of this study were to (1) quantify dentists' practice patterns regarding caries prevention and (2) test the hypothesis that certain dentists' characteristics are associated with these practice patterns. Design: The study used a cross-sectional study design consisting of a questionnaire survey. Participants: The study queried dentists who worked in outpatient dental practices who were affiliated with the Dental Practice-Based Research Network Japan, which seeks to engage dentists in investigating research questions and sharing experiences and expertise (n=282). Measurement: Dentists were asked about their practice patterns regarding caries preventive dentistry. Background data on patients, practice and dentist were also collected. Results: 38% of dentists (n=72) provided individualised caries prevention to more than 50% of their patients. Overall, 10% of the time in daily practice was spent on caries preventive dentistry. Dentists who provided individualised caries prevention to more than 50% of their patients spent significantly more time on preventive care and less time on removable prosthetics treatment, compared to dentists who did not provide individualised caries prevention. Additionally, they provided oral hygiene instruction, patient education, fluoride recommendations, intraoral photographs taken and diet counselling to their patients significantly more often than dentists who did not provide individualised caries prevention. Multiple logistic regression analysis suggested that the percentage of patients interested in caries prevention and the percentage of patients who received hygiene instruction, were both associated with the percentage of patients who receive individualised caries prevention. Conclusions: We identified substantial variation in dentists' practice patterns regarding preventive dentistry. Individualised caries prevention was significantly related to provision of other preventive services and to having a higher percentage of patients interested in caries prevention, but not to the dentist's belief about the effectiveness of caries risk assessment. (Clinicaltrials.gov registration number NCT01 680 848).