A young girl in the dental chair holding a mirror and smiling.

Dr. Joel Berg, a professor at the University of Washington School of Dentistry, breaks down the next big trends in dentistry in his new Spear Online continuing education course “Medical Management of Dental Caries: The Science Behind It and the Methods To Do It.

With dozens of manufacturers claiming their products can help detect caries lesions at a far earlier stage than visual examination or radiography, such advancements mean there will be a greater emphasis on treatment and prevention that results in fewer caries in patients and less risk of periodontal disease.

Learning objectives for the “Medical management of Dental Caries” course (1.25 CE credits) include:

  • Describe new technologies and how they detect caries at a very early stage.
  • Explain methods of risk assessment for dental caries.
  • Discuss the use of glass ionomer materials in caries management.
  • Discuss the emerging science related to oral biofilms and the use of silver diamine fluoride.
  • Apply the use of resin infiltration to halt caries lesion progression.

“Due to improvements in dental caries detection technology, the dental industry is looking much different than it did in past years,” said Dr. Berg, a professor of oral health who has published on many subjects, including pediatric restorative materials. His current research interests include the development of dental caries prevention programs using risk assessment models.

“Now, instead of treating the destructive results of dental caries, dentists can offer patients a new approach by treating the disease before it results in destruction,” Dr. Berg said.

In the course, Dr. Berg reviews the science behind caries management developments, specific methods, and how to deploy the latest advances in practice, namely the “emerging science related to oral biofilms and the use of silver diamine fluoride.”

Dental caries remains the most prevalent chronic disease in both children and adults, even though it is largely preventable. According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research:

  • 42% of children ages 2 to 11 have had dental caries in their primary teeth.
  • 59% of adolescents ages 12 to 19 have had dental caries in their permanent teeth.
  • 92% of adults ages 20 to 64 have had dental caries in their permanent teeth.

“Oftentimes, patients are in search of a practice with less invasive or faster treatment methods, so knowing what's on the technological horizon is a good strategy for you clinically and for your practice's bottom line,” Dr. Berg said.

Course lessons in “Medical management of Dental Caries” include:

  1. Introduction to Medical Management of Dental Caries
  2. Dental Caries Risk Assessment
  3. Dental Caries Lesion Detection
  4. Oral Biofilms
  5. Silver Diamine Fluoride
  6. Resin Infiltration