313 Teaching of Cariology in US Dental Schools

Thursday, March 22, 2012: 2 p.m. - 3:15 p.m.
Presentation Type: Poster Session
M. FONTANA, Department of Cariology, Restorative Sciences and Endodontics, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, D. HORLAK, University of the Pacific, Stockton, CA, S. SHARPLES, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, M. WOLFF, College of Dentistry, Cariology and Comprehensive Care, New York University, New York, NY, and D. YOUNG, University of the Pacific, Orinda, CA
Objectives: Recent international efforts have developed guidelines for cariology education. However, little is known regarding cariology education in the US. Objective: To gain an understating of the teaching of cariology in the US. The long term goal is to establish recommendations for cariology curriculum changes and identify areas for faculty development.

Methods: An online survey was conducted by Qualtrics, a secure web-based survey technology. The focus was the 4 year predoctoral dental curriculum in US dental schools.

Results: There was an 82.7% response rate (48 out of 58 schools surveyed).  46% of schools reported a single department was responsible for teaching cariology, and in 75% of schools this was the same that taught restorative dentistry. 69% had a defined curriculum for cariology, and 79% had preclinical activities prior to clinical experiences. The topics/subjects that were covered less frequently by schools (<80% of schools) included (% of schools): genetics and caries (67%), assessing readiness for behavioral change (65%), non radiographic technology-aided caries detection (76%), International Caries Detection and Assessment criteria (65%),  partial caries removal (69%), atraumatic restorative treatment (43%), and management of salivary gland hypofunction (75%). 100% of schools reported that risk assessment was addressed in their curriculum. Products reported by more than 80% of schools as addressed in the curriculum and used also in clinics included: sealants, xylitol, over-the-counter and prescription fluoride dentifrices, professionally applied fluorides and chlorhexidine rinses. Charting of activity was infrequent (58% of schools). There was great variation in the thresholds used between surgical and non-surgical interventions. Only 35% of schools reported adequate implementation of cariology concepts in the clinics.


Although there is some variation in content/evidence being taught, one of the biggest problems identified was the perception that didactic content was not adequately being translated into clinical teaching experiences, which could have a significant impact on students’ learning.

Keywords: Cariology, Education research, Learning, Preventive dentistry and Teaching
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