INTRODUCTION: Many dental schools provide access to care to underserved, low socioeconomic populations. This care should be based on the current evidence, which points toward preventative dentistry. In addition, academic institutions are positioned to set a tone and propagate the progressive changes into clinical practice through it’s graduates. It is important that students can identify appropriate preventative measures for patients and feel comfortable implementing those measures. Understanding the current status of students' knowledge, perceptions, and use of caries risk assessment and management protocols will provide insight into the need to integrate possible barriers to adoption.
OBJECTIVES: We aim examine the the level to which dental students are employing caries risk assessment evaluations of patients and caries preventative measures. In addition, this research will examine dental student’s attitudes and perceptions towards caries risk assessment and management techniques. The results are meant to explore the level of integration of caries risks assessment and preventative measures into the clinical practice of dental students and possible barriers, which has implications for the care of the underserved and low socio-economic status populations dental schools serve.
METHODS: In order to measure dental students’ knowledge, perceptions, and utilization of CRA and preventative measures a survey using an anonymous twelve-item multiple-choice survey with five-point Lickert-type response categories was developed. Questions about students current practices, including how often CRA should be employed and what preventative measures students had used in the last six months, were incorporated. Previously identified barriers to the adoption of caries risk identified Included skepticism of effectiveness, time constraints, and incorrect usage, and questions were developed around these points.
DISCUSSION: Because dental schools often treat underserved populations and patients of low socio-economic status, these schools provide a unique opportunity to begin addressing the unequal caries burden experienced by these populations. In addition, the emphasis on prevention compared to operative interventions for new graduates joining the field will influence on the landscape of the dental profession. This research will identify barriers to implementation so that we can create curriculums that will address those barriers. In general, the integration of caries risk assessment into the routine use depends on caries risk assessment being perceived as useful and simple with improved outcomes for patients and clinicians. With sustained effort, some dental school clinics have documented high levels of compliance attainable over time, which has promising implications for those programs willing to commit to preventative protocols.