Comparison of visual inspection, radiographic examination, laser fluorescence and their combinations on treatment decisions for occlusal surfaces
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Purpose: To compare visual inspection (VI), radiographic examination (RX) and the laser fluorescence device DIAGNOdent (L), as well as their combinations in vitro regarding treatment decisions for occlusal surfaces. Methods: 72 extracted human permanent teeth (molars and premolars) were used. Treatment decisions were recorded by three calibrated examiners, and the options available were fissure sealant and conservative restoration. For validation of treatment decisions, the teeth were sectioned and examined in a stereomicroscope. Thereafter, dental slices were scanned and the images were edited to facilitate classification of existing carious lesions. Intra and inter-examiner reproducibility for the determination of treatment plans were calculated using Cohen's kappa test (95%-CI). Sensitivity, specificity, positive and negative predictive values, and the area under the ROC curve were also calculated. Results: VI and L provided on average the greatest intra- and inter-examiner reproducibility, respectively. Although the combination of diagnostic methods may decrease both intra- and inter examiners reproducibility, combination of VI, L and RX resulted in the greatest sensitivity, being statistically superior to RX and L. There was more inter-examiner agreement for the option of restorative treatment, while the use of sealants as a treatment option yielded the lowest values. Negative predictive values were numerically inferior to positive predictive values, indicating that the examiners preferred not to restore a carious tooth than to proceed operatively in an intact tooth. The combination of the three methods studied showed the best results in determining treatment plans for occlusal surfaces, when compared to the other types of exams. on the other hand, radiographic examination and laser fluorescence were less efficient when used alone.