Dental detectives

Looking for clues in the constant battle against caries? Two diagnostic devices now on the market can help you spot caries at an earlier stage, my dear Watson.

Looking for clues in the constant battle against caries? Two diagnostic devices now on the market can help you spot caries at an earlier stage, my dear Watson.

Mary D. Cooper, RDH

The following scale values are used to diagnose the degree of the lesion and to help determine when treatment is necessary.

0-10: There is no evidence of caries or it may just be starting in the enamel. At this time, treatment is not indicated; therefore, the readings are not recorded in the patient?s chart.

10-20: Caries is evident in the enamel. Again, restorative work is not attempted, but the numbers are recorded in the patient?s chart for comparison during future evaluations. When the patient?s tooth registers in this range, it is important to encourage the use of preventive measures to aid in the remineralization of the enamel structure.

20-30: In this category, the caries is established in the dentin and some lateral spread has occurred. These lesions are not evident on radiographs. Preventive or operative care is advised, depending on the patient?s caries risk, recall interval, hygiene habits, etc.

30 or above: These lesions are more advanced, but they are not always evident on radiographs. Restorations are necessary at this point. If the reading is greater than 60, an open carious lesion is indicated or there is debris on the surface. You should clean and measure again.

All readings taken ? except for the first category, 0-10 ? should be recorded in the patient?s chart and used for comparison at future evaluation.

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