Risk assessment procedures currently used in medical practice may have sufficient evidence to accurately quantitate disease susceptibility of a person and allow for evidence-based preventive, diagnostic and treatment measures.  Even though dental risk assessment procedures currently lack sufficient data to quantitate a patient’s disease susceptibility, it still can foster the treatment of the disease process, rather than the outcome of the disease.  Furthermore, caries risk assessment promotes preventive and restorative treatment tailored for the individual patient, and aids in anticipation of caries progression or stabilization.

Caries risk indicators may examine factors that cause the disease directly or that can be useful in predicting it.  Clinical dental factors in children, such as presence of previous caries or white spot lesions are strongly associated with caries development. In preschool children, the presence of plaque and mutans streptococci levels also are valuable clinical findings for estimating caries risk.  Additionally, social factors such as parents with untreated carious lesions or tooth loss, low socio-economic status, high frequency sugar consumption, and recent immigration are important considerations (see table).