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Article: Volume 42 Number 9 Page 802 - November 2015

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  Dent Update 2015; 42: 802-809

Cariology:  Infected Dentine Revisited

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Abstract: Dentine becomes infected as a result of caries lesion formation on root surfaces and when lesions progress following cavitation of enamel lesions. However, this infection is unimportant because the driving force for lesion formation and progression is the overlying biofilm. This explains why root surface caries can be controlled by mechanical plaque control and fluoride, and restorations are not needed to arrest these lesions. Similarly, the infected dentine in cavitated coronal lesions does not have to be removed to arrest the lesion. If the lesion is either accessible or opened for cleaning by the patient or parent, the lesion can be arrested. Sealing of infected dentine within the tooth, either by a Hall crown in the primary dentition or by partial caries removal prior to placing a well-sealed filling, will also arrest the lesion. When restoring deep lesions in symptomless, vital teeth, vigorous excavation of infected dentine is likely to expose the pulp and make root canal treatment necessary. Thus ‘complete excavation’ is not needed and should be avoided.

Clinical relevance: Root surface caries can be arrested by cleaning and fluoride application. Restorations are not essential. Vigorous excavation of softened dentine in deep cavities of symptomless, vital teeth is contra-indicated. It is not needed and increases the risk of pulp exposure.

Author notes: Edwina Kidd, Emerita Professor of Cariology, King’s College, London, UK, Ole Fejerskov, Professor Emeritus, Faculty of Health, Aarhus University, Denmark and Bente Nyvad, Professor of Cariology, Faculty of Health, Aarhus University, Denmark.

Objective: To understand that infected dentine, in root surface lesions and cavitated coronal lesions, does not have to be removed to arrest lesion progression.