• treatment thresholds;
  • caries depth;
  • restorative decisions;
  • radiographs;
  • bitewing


Objective: This study examines the relationships between stated restorative treatment thresholds of 16 dentists and both their restorative decisions and caries depth determinations for approximal tooth surfaces based on bitewing radiographs. Methods: Sixteen dentists independently examined 15 pairs of experimental bitewing radiographs. They separately recorded restorative and dental caries depth decisions for 4,864 unrestored approximal tooth surfaces, 304 identical surfaces per dentist. In addition to caries depth and restorative decision data, these dentists provided their restorative thresholds using a five-point scale. Results: Three dentists stated it would be appropriate to restore enamel lesions, nine would wait until caries had reached the dentinoenamel junction, and four would wait until caries extended into the dentine. Although dentists stating an enamel restorative threshold intended definitely or probably to restore relatively more surfaces and recorded relatively more surfaces with dentinal caries, ANOVA analyses revealed that the differences among the restorative and the depth means according to the restorative thresholds were not significant. Considerable variation existed in both the restorative and depth decisions among the dentists in each threshold group. Conclusion: Although interesting trends occurred in the restorative and depth decisions relative to the stated thresholds, this study suggests, like others in Europe, that these thresholds cannot be taken at face value to explain restorative decisions