WHAT MARYLAND DENTISTS KNOW AND DO ABOUT PREVENTING DENTAL CARIES
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Statement of the problem: Dental caries is the most prevalent disease of US children. Yet, we have known for decades how to prevent it and most adults consider dentists their source of dental information. The purpose of this study was to determine dentist's knowledge, opinions and practices regarding caries prevention. Methods: A mail survey was used to determine dentists' knowledge, opinions and practices regarding caries prevention. Frequency distributions, bivariate and multivariate analysis were conducted. Results: The majority of respondents were white, male in private practice. Their knowledge of caries prevention was modest. Their understanding of how fluoride works, appropriate methods of application of fluorides, and duration of professional fluoride applications was poor. Conclusions: Dentists' lack of understanding of dental caries prevention impacts not only their clinical decision-making but also what they tell their patients. These results suggest strongly the need for improved education for dental students and those already in practice.