Serious difficulties in reporting results were encountered when using ICDAS II and PUFA separately in an epidemiological survey in a child population in Brazil. That necessitated the development of a comprehensive but pragmatic caries assessment index. This publication describes the rationale, development and content of a novel caries assessment index. Strengths and weaknesses of ICDAS II, PUFA and other indices were analysed. The novel caries index developed for use in epidemiological surveys is termed 'Caries Assessment Spectrum and Treatment' (CAST). 'Spectrum' indicates what is considered the main strength of the new index - its usefulness in describing the complete range of stages of carious lesion progression: from no carious lesion, through caries protection (sealant) and caries cure (restoration) to lesions in enamel and dentine, and the advanced stages of carious lesion progression in pulpal and tooth-surrounding tissue. CAST combines elements of the ICDAS II and PUFA indices, and the M- and F-components of the DMF index. A DMF score can easily be calculated from the CAST score, thereby enabling retention of the use of existing DMF scores. The CAST index for use in epidemiological surveys is very promising. It should be validated and its reliability and usefulness be tested in different age groups in different countries and cultures.
© 2011 FDI World Dental Federation.