George K. Stookey, Ph.D., and Carlos Gonzales-Cabezas, D.D.S., Ph.D.:
New Diagnostic Methods
Current diagnostic tools used in dental caries detection are not sensitive enough to diagnose the disease process in its early stages, and once a diagnosis is made restoration is frequently the only effective means of treatment. The purpose of this review is to systematically assess the available literature to determine if emerging diagnostic methods for dental caries are more efficient than traditional methods for detecting and monitoring the progress of caries in permanent and primary teeth. Inclusion and exclusion criteria were established preceding the literature search. Included articles were grouped by type of emerging technology and study design. Types of emerging technologies include laser fluorescence, light fluorescence, digital imaging fiber optic transillumination, and ultrasound. In vitro and preclinical data indicate that some of the reviewed methods show promise for the detection and monitoring of early caries lesions. However, very little clinical data are available to validate these technologies, and none can be recommended at this time as a substitute for traditional diagnostic techniques.