Dentists' use of caries risk assessment in children: findings from the Dental Practice-Based Research Network
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This study surveyed Dental Practice-Based Research Network (DPBRN) member dentists (from four regions in the U.S. and Scandinavia) who perform restorative dentistry in their practices. The survey asked a range of questions about caries risk assessment in patients aged 6 to 18. Among respondents, 73% of dentists reported performing caries risk assessment among these patients, while 14% assessed caries risk by using a special form. Regions in which most dentists were in a private practice model were the least likely to perform caries risk assessment, while regions where most dentists practiced in a large group practice model were the most likely to use a special form for caries risk assessment. Recent graduates from dental school were more likely to use a caries risk assessment compared to older graduates. Current oral hygiene, decreased salivary flow, and the presence of active caries were rated as the most important caries factors. Some differences by region were also evident for the risk factor ratings. These results suggest that not all community dentists assess caries risk. The results of this study also indicate considerable variability in dentists' views concerning the importance of specific caries risk factors in treatment planning and weak evidence that caries risk assessment is driving clinical practice when preventive treatment recommendations are being considered.