A survey of white spot lesion prevention and resolution in the US dental school curricula

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Journal of Dental Education


Purpose/objectives: White spot lesions (WSLs) are opaque white lesions on smooth tooth surfaces as a result of demineralization. Proven methods of prevention and resolution of these lesions are available yet the incidence rate, especially in orthodontic patients, is still high. Perhaps the way dental schools are educating students on the topic is insufficient. The purpose of this study was to determine if and how predoctoral dental students are taught about the prevention and resolution of WSLs. Methods: An electronic survey was developed and sent out to each of the 66 accredited dental schools in the United States and Puerto Rico. The survey consisted of 13 questions and inquired about whether the school includes instruction of WSLs in its predoctoral curriculum. If the school indicated instruction WSLs was in the predoctoral curriculum, further questions were asked pertaining to the content and method of the instruction. Demographic data was also gathered from each institution. Results: Twenty-eight of the 66 schools responded for a 42% response rate. Eighty-two percent of schools indicated they were teaching about prevention of WSLs, while 50% indicated they were teaching about resolution, or treatment, of WSLs. The most commonly taught methods were patient education, over-the-counter fluoride mouthrinse, toothpaste, or gel, and high fluoride content toothpaste. Conclusion: The majority of responding dental schools are at least including some instruction of WSLs in the predoctoral curriculum. Many of the known prevention and treatment measures available, however, are not routinely taught.

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