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Open Access Research article

Comparison of caries detection methods using varying numbers of intra-oral digital photographs with visual examination for epidemiology in children

Uriana Boye1*, Ian A Pretty2, Martin Tickle1 and Tanya Walsh3

Author Affiliations

1 The Oral Health Unit, School of Dentistry, University of Manchester, Manchester Academic Health Sciences Centre, Manchester, UK

2 Dental Health Unit, 3A Skelton House ,Lloyd Street North, Manchester, UK

3 The Cochrane Oral Health Group, University of Manchester, Manchester Academic Health Sciences Centre, Manchester, UK

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BMC Oral Health 2013, 13:6  doi:10.1186/1472-6831-13-6

Published: 11 January 2013

Abstract

Background

This was a method comparison study. The aim of study was to compare caries information obtained from a full mouth visual examination using the method developed by the British Association for the Study of Community Dentistry (BASCD) for epidemiological surveys with caries data obtained from eight, six and four intra-oral digital photographs of index teeth in two groups of children aged 5 years and 10/11 years.

Methods

Five trained and calibrated examiners visually examined the whole mouth of 240 5-year-olds and 250 10-/11-year-olds using the BASCD method. The children also had intra-oral digital photographs taken of index teeth. The same 5 examiners assessed the intra-oral digital photographs (in groups of 8, 6 and 4 intra-oral photographs) for caries using the BASCD criteria; dmft/DMFT were used to compute Weighted Kappa Statistic as a measure of intra-examiner reliability and intra-class correlation coefficients as a measure of inter-examiner reliability for each method. A method comparison analysis was performed to determine the 95% limits of agreement for all five examiners, comparing the visual examination method with the photographic assessment method using 8, 6 and 4 intra-oral photographs.

Results

The intra-rater reliability for the visual examinations ranged from 0.81 to 0.94 in the 5-year-olds and 0.90 to 0.97 in the 10-/11-year-olds. Those for the photographic assessments in the 5-year-olds were for 8 intra-oral photographs, 0.86 to 0.94, for 6 intra-oral photographs, 0.85 to 0.98 and for 4 intra-oral photographs, 0.80 to 0.96; for the 10-/11-year-olds were for 8 intra-oral photographs 0.84 to 1.00, for 6 intra-oral photographs 0.82 to 1.00 and for 4 intra-oral photographs 0.72 to 0.98. The 95% limits of agreement were −1.997 to 1.967, -2.375 to 2.735 and −2.250 to 2.921 respectively for the 5-year-olds and −2.614 to 2.027, -2.179 to 3.887 and −2.594 to 2.163 respectively for the 10-/11-year-olds.

Conclusions

The photographic assessment method, particularly assessment of 8 intra-oral digital photographs is comparable to the visual examination method in the primary dentition. With the additional benefits of archiving, remote scoring, allowing multiple scorers to score images and enabling longitudinal analysis, the photographic assessment method may be used as an alternative caries detection method in the primary dentition in situations where the visual examination method may not be applicable such as when examiner blinding is required and in practice based randomised controlled trials (RCTs).

Keywords:
Intra-oral photographs; Caries; Visual examination; Dental epidemiology