Restorative treatment thresholds for interproximal primary caries based on radiographic images: findings from the Dental Practice-Based Research Network.
This study sought to quantify the depths of proximal caries lesions that lead dentists in regular clinical practice to intervene restoratively, based on hypothetical scenarios that present radiographic images and patient background information, and to identify characteristics associated with restorative intervention in lesions that have penetrated only the enamel surface. This study surveyed dentists from the Dental Practice-Based Research Network (DPBRN) who had reported doing at least some restorative dentistry (n = 901). Dentists were asked to indicate the depth at which they would restore a lesion, based on a series of radiographic images depicting interproximal caries at increasing lesion depths in a mandibular premolar; in addition, the dentists were questioned regarding two caries risk scenarios: one involving a patient with low caries risk and another involving a patient at higher risk. Logistic regression was used to analyze associations between the decision to intervene restoratively and specific dentist, practice, and patient characteristics. Of the 901 DPBRN practitioner-investigators, 500 (56%) completed the survey. For a high caries risk patient, 66% of respondents indicated that they would restore a proximal enamel lesion, while 24% would do so once the lesion had reached into the outer third of the dentin. For a low caries risk patient, 39% of respondents reported that they would restore an enamel lesion, and 54% would do so once the lesion had reached into the outer third of the dentin. In multivariate analyses that accounted for dentist and practice characteristics, dentists in large group practices were less likely to intervene surgically for enamel caries, regardless of patient's caries risk.