Caries Risk Assessment: Getting Started

Caries Risk Assessment: Getting Started

Anyone who has tried to implement caries risk assessment in practice knows the challenges that come along with adding new elements to patient appointments.  Something as simple as a risk assessment brings with it unique challenges, especially when you’re also trying to change patient behavior.  Before implementing caries risk assessment, some key elements of the process need to be figured out, so the procedure doesn’t become a rote series of questions and answers.  When properly performed, the caries risk assessment should be a conversation that leads to behavior change and an improvement in oral health.

Together with input from many dental practices around the country, the DentaQuest Institute developed a Caries Risk Assessment Handout (file attached below), which includes a series of implementation ideas your practice can use to get started.  A dental provider workflow was also created for clinicians to use as they determine how to incorporate caries risk assessment into patient visits. There are many types of caries risk assessment forms to use, and deciding which form is right for your office is just the beginning. 

We suggest starting on paper until your team has experience and can suggest ideas about how to format the risk assessment in an electronic patient record. So start small. Find that one provider – maybe it is you – who is eager to see how using a caries risk assessment can be part of the dental visit. Determine who is part of the process – is there information an assistant or hygienist can gather and the dentist reviews and makes a diagnosis? Who will be part of this new process?

We recently shared the Caries Risk Assessment Handout with clinicians during a lecture hosted at the Institute, entitled “Tsk Tsk Tsk, You’re High Caries Risk.”  Dr. Brian Nový, Director of Practice Improvement at the DentaQuest Institute and President of the DentaQuest Oral Health Center, lectured about how to simplify the risk assessment process while ensuring all the necessary data is collected.  When performed properly, the risk assessment can help you track outcomes while also minimizing the ramifications of risk factors.  The lecture was videotaped and will be offered on the DentaQuest Institute’s Online Learning Center in future months, so stay tuned!

We welcome your feedback on the usability of this handout. Feel free to share any thoughts or questions you might have to



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