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February JADA: Efficacy of caries risk assessment tools compared

January 25, 2019

By Michelle Manchir

Cover image of February JADAInconsistency in weighing risk factors in caries risk assessment tools affects dentists' ability to best identify and develop a treatment plan for patients at risk of developing caries, according a study that is the cover story of the February issue of The Journal of the American Dental Association.

Authors of the article, "How Useful Are Current Caries Risk Assessment Tools in Informing the Oral Health Decision-Making Process?," used National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey data to construct 10 caries risk assessment models and use them to estimate the level of caries risk for publicly insured young people aged 1-20. They found "significant variation among models in assigning risk levels," according to the article.

"This affects dentists' ability to accurately identify and develop a treatment plan for an individual at high or moderate risk, and hinders policymakers' ability to accurately budget and allocate resources to address oral health needs and to properly evaluate the effectiveness of new approaches and technology aiming at improving oral health care," said corresponding author of the article Dr. Yara A. Halasa-Rappel.

The authors concluded that dentistry needs "a valid, evidence-based, accurate and reliable population-based caries risk assessment model" that "could address the variability among caries risk assessment tools."

"This tool is essential for better dental health planning, policymaking and payment rate determination," said Dr. Halasa-Rappel. "We need to bring together our experts, our data and our commitment to support the development of a strictly evidence-based caries risk assessment tool."

To read the full article, visit

Other highlights of the February issue include a look at silver and fluoride content and short-term stability of 38 percent silver diamine fluoride; a report on the geospatial distributions of periodontitis and adults with severe periodontitis in the U.S.; and a systematic review and meta-analysis of oral health, academic performance and school absenteeism among kids

Each month, JADA articles are published online at in advance of the print publication.