What factors predict root caries in your patients?

2019 02 06 18 56 6331 Tooth Abstract 400

Root caries is a multifactorial disease that can be prevented. So how can you identify patients who might be at risk? After reviewing almost 20 years of studies, researchers found that older patients who are tobacco users are among the most at risk.

With an aging population and growth in the number of natural teeth retained in these patients, root caries is an increasingly common treatment issue. Researchers conducted the first systematic review to identify the risk factors for these caries and published their findings in the Journal of Dentistry (July 10, 2019).

Up to a third of older patients may be exposed to root caries, so researchers wanted to identify the risk predictors. They searched four electronic databases and found 19 relevant studies that included more than 7,300 patients on the factors associated with the incidence or increment of decayed and filled root surfaces, decayed root surfaces, or both.

The researchers divided the factors into six categories:

  • Social-demographic background
  • General health
  • Health behaviors
  • Fluoride exposure
  • Oral health habits
  • Oral health condition

After analyzing the studies, the researchers noted a correlation among new root caries and age, baseline root caries experience, gingival recession, and tobacco use. They found no correlation with socioeconomic status, good oral hygiene, and use of fluorides and reported mixed results on root caries and the number of natural teeth retained.

The researchers noted that a limitation of their study was that it was not possible to conduct a meta-analysis on the data.

They concluded, however, that their systematic review discovered several predictors of root caries risk.

"This systematic review provides support that improvement of oral hygiene, prevention of gingival recession, and use of fluoride would be a useful strategy for prevention of new root caries," wrote the authors, led by Jingyang Zhang of the University of Hong Kong Faculty of Dentistry.

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