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January JADA assesses whether patients recognize erosive tooth wear

January 02, 2020

By Mary Beth Versaci

 January JADA Cover
Dental patients struggle to recognize erosive tooth wear, according to a study published in the January issue of The Journal of the American Dental Association.

The cover story, "Are Dental Patients Able to Perceive Erosive Tooth Wear on Anterior Teeth?: An Internet-Based Survey Assessing Awareness and Related Action," examined patients' ability to identify erosive tooth wear, which is the irreversible loss of dental hard tissue, when compared to sound and carious teeth.

The researchers recruited 623 participants through Amazon's crowdsourcing service, Mechanical Turk, to view images of buccal surfaces of teeth that were sound or had erosive tooth wear or caries. Participants reported whether they thought a dental condition existed, how likely they would be to seek care and how esthetically attractive they found the teeth. Teeth with erosive wear or caries included those with initial, moderate or severe signs of disease.

Participants had difficulty recognizing erosive tooth wear in general and compared to sound and carious teeth at each level of severity, and they were less likely to schedule a dental appointment for care or treatment of teeth with erosive wear than caries at each level as well. Participants also found erosive tooth wear more esthetically attractive than caries at each level of severity and initial erosive tooth wear more attractive than sound teeth.

Erosive tooth wear is an underdiagnosed condition in the U.S., most likely because of a lack of awareness among dental professionals and the lay public, said co-principal investigator Gerardo Maupomé, Ph.D., associate dean for research at the Indiana University Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health.

Dr. Maupomé and Dr. Anderson Hara, Ph.D., co-principal investigator and director of the cariology division of the cariology, operative dentistry and dental public health department at the IU School of Dentistry, led the research group, which also included Adam Hirsh, Ph.D., from the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis School of Science, and Dr. Joana Carvalho, Ph.D., from the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium. The lead author of the article was Micah Goldfarb, Ph.D., now with Ipsos Behavioral Science Center in New York.

"Findings from this study will serve as an important stepping stone to understand how the lay public identify erosive tooth wear," Drs. Maupomé and Hara said. "Erosive tooth wear appears to be considerably out of the radar. We think it is important to understand how much exists in the U.S. population and why."

The study is one of the first investigations into lay perceptions of erosive tooth wear, Dr. Maupomé said.

Other articles in the January issue of JADA discuss the barriers involved in applying evidence-based dentistry principles, patient preferences on sharing private information in dental settings and the incidence of oropharyngeal cancer and rate of human papillomavirus vaccination coverage in Florida.

Every month, JADA articles are published online at JADA.ADA.org in advance of the print publication.