Caries risk assessment
As your dentist aims to predict and arrest dental disease on onset, the identification of caries (decay) risk is one of the cornerstones of minimal intervention dentistry. During your check-up you will be asked questions and have your teeth examined relating to decay risk factors, as outlined below:
- Salivary factors: saliva is your no. 1 natural protection against decay. Its quality is measured by flow-rate, pH, fluoride and bicarbonate levels and other salivary anti-bacterial properties.
- Tooth factors: anatomical features, such as pits and grooves, and fluoride levels, as well as enamel surface defects (which are influenced by maternal and perinatal health and nutrition). It is here that pit and fissure sealants have a valuable role to play in protecting at risk surfaces.
- Plaque factors: amount and composition of plaque, particularly the levels of mutans-streptococci and other acid-loving micro-organisms such as lactobacilli.
- Dietary factors: what type, form and frequency of fermentable carbohydrates, and how often you are exposed to exogenous acids through acidic foods and drinks.
- Oral hygiene: how often and how effective, and the use of a fluoride-containing paste.
- Social factors: education, awareness, attitudes to health care, ‘dental ambitions’, status, customs and habits.