Background: The objectives were to: (1) quantify patient satisfaction with treatment for early dental caries overall, and according to whether or not (2a) the patient received invasive treatment; (2b) was high-risk for dental caries, and had dental insurance; and (3) encourage practitioners to begin using non-invasive approaches to early caries management.
Methods: Ten practitioners recorded patient, lesion, and treatment information about non-cavitated early caries lesions. Information on 276 consecutive patients with complete data was included, who received either non-invasive (no dental restoration) or invasive (dental restoration) treatment. Patients completed a patient satisfaction questionnaire and were classified as dissatisfied if they did not "agree" or "strongly agree" with any of 14 satisfaction items.
Results: Patients had a mean (± SD) age of 41.8 (±15.8) years, 64% were female and 88% were white. Twenty-five percent (n = 68) were dissatisfied in at least one of the 14 satisfaction items. Satisfaction levels did not significantly vary by patient's gender, race, caries risk category, or affected tooth surface location. Overall, 11% (28 of 276) received invasive treatment; satisfaction did not differ between patients who had invasive or non-invasive treatment. Seven patients received invasive treatment at their request even though that was not what their practitioner recommended; 5 out of 6 were satisfied with their treatment nonetheless.
Conclusions: About one-fourth of patients treated for non-cavitated early caries were dissatisfied with at least some aspect of their dental care experience. Satisfaction of patients who received invasive treatment did not differ from those who received non-invasive treatment.
Keywords: Dentistry; Invasive treatment; Non-invasive treatment; Patient satisfaction; Practice-based research.