Telediagnosis of dental caries: Possible or impossible? A pilot cross-sectional study

Clin Exp Dent Res. 2022 Dec;8(6):1614-1622. doi: 10.1002/cre2.663. Epub 2022 Sep 22.

Abstract

Objectives: The aims of this study were to evaluate the effectiveness of teledentistry (based on a home intraoral imaging protocol) in detecting dental caries and to assess the accuracy of this method compared to clinical examination.

Methods: Forty-three patients were recruited for the study. Using a protocol for taking intraoral photographs at home with a smartphone proposed by the Dental School of Verona, a remote diagnosis of dental caries (TD) was performed by an experienced dentist. The same caries sites were also assessed by clinical diagnosis (CD) by a second experienced dentist. Ten photos were taken at home in five different perspectives, with and without flash, and emailed to one of the authors. The best five photos were selected for telediagnosis. The International Caries Detection and Assessment System (ICDAS II) score was used for caries diagnosis. Statistical tests were performed: Sensitivity and specificity of TD, the positive and negative predictive value of TD (PPV-NPV), and Spearman correlation to evaluate the relationship between the scores of TD and CD.

Results: A total of 430 photographs were submitted; TD was performed on 215 photographs and 43 patients were visited. A total of 1201 teeth were analyzed. The sensitivity of TD was 74.0, the specificity was 99.1, the PPV of TD was 91.7, and the NPV was 96.4. The Spearman correlation was 0.816, showing a very strong correlation between the values obtained with TD and CD.

Conclusions: The study showed good potential for TD, which proved to be a feasible method to combine with routine caries diagnosis in daily preventive dentistry practice.

Keywords: dental caries; diagnosis; oral diagnosis; telemedicine.

MeSH terms

  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dental Caries* / diagnosis
  • Dental Caries* / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Photography, Dental / methods
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Smartphone