Introduction: The Scottish Dental Clinical Effectiveness Programme (SDCEP) is developing guidance for oral health assessment and review that is intended for use in National Health Service (NHS) general dental practice. One section of this guidance is assessment of the teeth, including their caries status. The detailed caries assessment method identified by the guidance group is the International Caries Detection and Assessment System (ICDAS).
Aim: The aim of this study was to investigate the implications of using the ICDAS in an NHS general practice and, in particular, the time taken to use the system.
Method: After online and in-practice training and calibration, 50 adult and 50 child patients were randomly allocated for assessment using the ICDAS detection codes. The ICDAS protocol states that the teeth should be clean and dry. For this study, all patients had their teeth brushed by the dentist before the assessment and the results were recorded on draft ICDAS clinical pro forma sheets. The time taken for the assessment was assessed with a stopwatch and recorded in a spreadsheet program.
Results: The results showed that the mean time for the assessment of an adult was 3.80 minutes, or 4.99 minutes if the time for pre-examination cleaning and drying was included. For a child, the mean time was 2.53 minutes, or 3.99 minutes if pre-examination brushing time was included.
Conclusions: These results indicate that with training and experience, it is possible to carry out an ICDAS assessment in a time that is practical in general dental practice.