Dentistry, College of


Date of this Version

October 2005


Published in The Dental Clinics of North America 49:4 (October 2005): Incipient and Hidden Caries, pp. 795–813. doi 10.1016/j.cden.2005.05.013 Copyright © 2005 Elsevier Inc. Used by permission.


The essence of dental hygiene practice includes the use of preventive and therapeutic methods for the promotion of good health and to prevent and control oral diseases. Dental hygienists actively promote the prevention of oral diseases through patient education that encourages self-care prevention of dental caries, supplemented by needs-related professional preventive services. Equally significant in the scope of dental hygiene practice are thorough oral examinations for disease detection. Although dental hygienists do not legally or definitively diagnose dental caries, they are responsible for detecting caries at all stages of the disease, recognizing caries risk factors, and planning management strategies. Because the focus of this endeavor is the management of incipient and hidden caries, caries prevention will not be the primary focus of this article. It must be underscored that dental caries prevention is one of the primary goals for ethical, sound, and responsible dental hygiene practice.