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Oral Health Topics

Caries Risk Assessment and Management

Key Points


  • Caries is a continuum of disease states of increasing severity and tooth destruction, ranging from subclinical changes at the molecular level to lesions involving the dentin, either with an intact surface or obvious cavitation.
  • The formerly practiced paradigm of “drill and fill,” drilling out pits and fissures or surgically removing decayed and diseased tissue and placing permanent restorations, does not address the full continuum of the caries disease process, including microbial activity and the balance between enamel remineralization and demineralization.
  • Systematic methods of caries detection, classification, and risk assessment, as well as prevention/risk management strategies, can help to reduce patient risk of developing advanced disease and may even arrest the disease process.

  • Introduction
  • Detection of Caries/Caries Classification and Risk Assessment Systems
  • Caries Prevention and Risk Management Strategies
  • References
  • ADA Resources
  • Other Resources

Prepared by: Center for Scientific Information, ADA Science Institute
Reviewed by: Caries Workgroup, ADA Council on Scientific Affairs
Topic last updated: July 12, 2017


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