Clinical Oral Investigations

, Volume 23, Issue 2, pp 847–853 | Cite as

Long-term follow-up of inactive occlusal caries lesions: 4-5-year results

  • J. E. A. ZenknerEmail author
  • A. Dalla Nora
  • L. S. Alves
  • J. Carvalho
  • M. B. Wagner
  • M. Maltz
Original Article



To assess the clinical behavior of inactive caries lesion on the occlusal sites of permanent molars over 4–5 years and to estimate the risk for progression of caries-inactive sites compared with sound ones.


Clinical examinations were conducted at baseline (n = 258) and after 4–5 years and included the recording of dental plaque and dental caries at the occlusal surfaces and the eruption stage of each permanent molar.


One hudred ninety-three schoolchildren were followed (response rate of 74.8%), totalizing 1152 teeth. Of the children, 30.6% (n = 59) presented at least one molar containing an active lesion, filling, or that had been extracted; according to the activity criterion, inactive lesions presented around a twofold increased risk for caries progression than sound surfaces (OR = 2.34 95%CI = 1.51–3.62). Thirteen percent (n = 25) of the children presented at least one molar progressing to dentine cavity, filling, or extraction; according to the severity criterion, inactive caries lesions presented a significantly higher risk for progression when compared with sound surfaces (OR = 2.69, 95% CI = 1.50–4.83).


The vast majority of lesions (85–90%) identified as inactive enamel caries at baseline did not progress over 4–5 years. Despite this fact, it was possible to detect an increased risk for caries progression in caries-inactive occlusal sites compared with the sound ones.

Clinical relevance

Considering the low progression rates, inactive caries lesions do not need a specific caries-controlling treatment and should be monitored longitudinally in the same manner as sound surfaces.


Dental caries Molar Risk Disease progression Permanent dentition 



This study was funded by the Federal University of Santa Maria.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

Júlio Eduardo do Amaral Zenkner declares that he has no conflict of interest. Ângela Dalla Nora declares that she has no conflict of interest. Luana Severo Alves declares that she has no conflict of interest. Joana Carvalho declares that she has no conflict of interest. Mario B. Wagner declares that he has no conflict of interest. Marisa Maltz declares that she has no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

The study protocol was approved by the Federal University of Santa Maria Ethics Committee (CAAE 0097.0.243.000-08). All procedures were in accordance with the ethical standards of this research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

All subjects and their parents/legal guardians were informed on the research risks and purposes and signed a written informed consent and the children agreed to participate. Patients received dental care by the researchers throughout their participation in the study. No financial incentive was paid for the participants.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of DentistryFederal University of Santa MariaSanta MariaBrazil
  2. 2.Department of StomatologySchool of Dentistry - UFSMSanta MariaBrazil
  3. 3.Faculty of Medicine and DentistryCatholic University of LouvainLouvainBelgium
  4. 4.Faculty of MedicineFederal University of Rio Grande do SulPorto AlegreBrazil
  5. 5.Faculty of OdontologyFederal University of Rio Grande do SulPorto AlegreBrazil

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