1. What are the best methods for detecting early and advanced dental caries (validity and feasibility of traditional methods; validity and feasibility of emerging methods)?
Observations and studies during the past two decades have indicated that diagnostic and treatment paradigms may differ significantly for large, cavitated lesions versus early, small lesions and demineralized areas on tooth surfaces. The essential anatomic-pathophysiologic problem is that the carious lesion occurs within a small, highly mineralized structure following penetration through the structure’s surface in a manner which may be difficult to detect using current methods. Additionally, carious lesions occur in a variety of anatomic locations, often adjacent to existing restorations, and have unique aspects of configuration and rate of spread. These differences make it unlikely that any one diagnostic modality will have adequate sensitivity and specificity of detection for all sites. The application of multiple diagnostic tests to the individual patient increases the overall efficacy of caries diagnosis. Existing diagnostic modalities require stronger validation, and new modalities with appropriate sensitivities and specificities for different caries sites, caries severities, and degrees of caries activity are needed. Continue reading