Alliance for a Cavity Free Future

Alliance for a Cavity Free Future
Stop Caries NOW for a Cavity-Free Future
An Oral Health Resource

Minimally Invasive Dentistry

Brief Case Studies References Full Summary


Minimally invasive dentistry (MID) is an evidence based intervention approach supported internationally that aims to do the least harm to effected and surrounding tissues.1, 2 This intervention strategy employs individualized risk assessment and the early detection of carious lesions. Treatment includes efforts to remineralize non-cavitated lesions and conservative operative procedures that maintain tooth structure.3 Prevention is a key component of MID, an area which has been historically neglected by the treatment oriented oral healthcare agenda of many countries. However, the need for early prevention has been recognized by the World Health Organization and the World Health Assembly, which have both provided recommendations to governments and health systems to build integrated preventive services between oral and primary health care.4 In order to communicate effectively about Cariology (and MID) among dental care providers, an Internationally agreed glossary of terms has been provided and adopted by the FDI World Dental Federation3 to assure consistency of language:

Caries Lesion/Carious Lesion:

A caries/carious lesion is a detectable change in the tooth structure that results from the biofilm-tooth interactions occurring due to the disease caries. These interactions cause changes in the tooth mineral structure as well as in the much less plentiful organic parts of tooth structures.3

Caries/Carious Lesion Detection:

A process involving the recognition (and/or recording), traditionally by optical or physical means, of changes in enamel and/or dentine and/or cementum, which are consistent with having been caused by the caries process.3

Caries/Caries Lesion Assessment:

The evaluation of the characteristics of a caries lesion, once it has been detected. These characteristics may include optical, physical, chemical or biochemical parameters, such as color, size or surface integrity.3

Caries Diagnosis:

The human professional summation of all signs and symptoms of disease to arrive at an identification of the past or present occurrence of the disease caries.3

White –spot Lesion:

A caries/carious lesion which has reached the stage where the net subsurface mineral loss has produced changes in the optical properties of enamel such that these are visibly detectable as a loss of translucency, resulting in a white appearance of the enamel surface.3


The loss of calcified material from the structure of the tooth. This chemical process can be biofilm mediated – i.e. as in caries – or chemically mediated – i.e. as in erosion – from exogenous or endogenous sources of acid – e.g. from the diet, environment or stomach.3


The net gain of calcified material within the tooth structure, replacing that which was previously lost by demineralization.3

Caries Lesion Activity (Net Progression):

The summation of the dynamics of the caries process resulting in the net loss, over time, of mineral from a caries lesion – i.e. there is active lesion progression.3

Arrested or Inactive Caries Lesion:

A lesion which is not undergoing net mineral loss – i.e. the caries process in a specific lesion is no longer progressing.3

Remineralized Caries Lesion:

A caries lesion which exhibits evidence of having undergone net mineral gain – i.e. there is replacement of mineral which was previously lost due to the caries process.3