Caries detection methods: Can they aid decision making for invasive sealant treatment?

AC Pereira*, EH Verdonschot, M Huysmans

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

    47 Citations (Scopus)


    The decision to place sealants is a difficult one, and it has been suggested that in a low risk population it may be efficient to wait until caries is detected in the fissure. An invasive sealant technique with fissure preparation may then be indicated. The diagnostic method used in the indication of such a procedure should accurately detect both dentine caries and sound fissures: high sensitivity for dentine caries (at D3 threshold) with high specificity for enamel caries (at D1 threshold), The aims of this study were to assess the diagnostic performance of selected diagnostic methods at normal cut-offs for traditional dentine caries detection and at reduced cut-offs in relation to the desired performance mentioned above, and to assess whether fissure opening allows for accurate visual detection of dentinal caries, Data were obtained from 230 occlusal sites of 101 extracted human molar teeth, Diagnostic methods used on the entire sample were: visual inspection, electrical conductance measurements and laser fluorescence measurements. The sample was then divided into two groups, Group 1 was subjected to visual inspection after application of a dye. Group 2 was subjected to visual inspection after fissure opening only, and after subsequent dye application. Validation was performed by histological investigation. The results with cut-offs normally used in dentine caries detection were roughly in accordance with the literature, except for laser fluorescence, The sensitivity of visual inspection for dentinal caries (D3) was 17% before and 70% after fissure opening. Using reduced cut-offs, a 100% sensitivity (D3) was achieved with 2 methods, but this also resulted in 63 or 87% false positive diagnoses of sound surfaces. Visual inspection and electrical methods both showed a moderate to high sensitivity (D3) with a higher than 50% specificity (D1). It was concluded that visual inspection and electrical methods at reduced cutoffs may aid the indication of invasive sealant treatment. The visual detection of dentinal caries is substantially increased, but not perfect after fissure opening. Copyright (C) 2001 S. Karger AG. Basel.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)83-89
    Number of pages7
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2001


    • occlusal caries
    • electrical conductance
    • diagnosis
    • fissure sealants
    • laser fluorescence
    • IN-VITRO
    • IMPACT

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