Objective: The object of this conference paper was to review and discuss caries risk assessment in general practice from the questions i) 'Why', ii) 'When', and iii) 'How'.
Method: Narrative review.
Results: i) Patient caries risk assessment is the basic component in the decision-making process for adequate prevention and management of dental caries and for determination of individual recall intervals. ii) Caries risk assessment should always be performed at a child's first dental visit and then regularly throughout life, and especially when social or medical life events are occurring. iii) There are several risk assessment methods and models available for but the evidence for their validity is limited. Although there is no clearly superior method for predicting future caries, the use of structured protocols combining socioeconomy, behavior, general health, diet, oral hygiene routines, clinical data, and salivary tests or computer-based systems are considered best clinical practice. The accuracy ranges between 60% and 90%, depending on age. Caries risk assessment is more effective in the selection of patients at low risk than those with high caries risk.
Conclusion: As evidence suggests that past caries experience is far from ideal but the most important single risk component for more caries at all ages, any clinical sign of likely active demineralization on smooth, occlusal, and proximal tooth surfaces should be taken as a signal for the implementation of individually designed preventive and disease management measures.
© 2012 John Wiley & Sons A/S. Published by Blackwell Publishing Ltd.