The objective of this study was to measure the validity and reliability of a multifactorial Risk Factor Model developed for use in predicting future caries risk in Nevada adolescents in a public health setting.
This study examined retrospective data from an oral health surveillance initiative that screened over 51,000 students 13-18 years of age, attending public/private schools in Nevada across six academic years (2002/2003-2007/2008). The Risk Factor Model included ten demographic variables: exposure to fluoridation in the municipal water supply, environmental smoke exposure, race, age, locale (metropolitan vs. rural), tobacco use, Body Mass Index, insurance status, sex, and sealant application. Multiple regression was used in a previous study to establish which significantly contributed to caries risk. Follow-up logistic regression ascertained the weight of contribution and odds ratios of the ten variables. Researchers in this study computed sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value (PVP), negative predictive value (PVN), and prevalence across all six years of screening to assess the validity of the Risk Factor Model.
Subjects' overall mean caries prevalence across all six years was 66%. Average sensitivity across all six years was 79%; average specificity was 81%; average PVP was 89% and average PVN was 67%.
Overall, the Risk Factor Model provided a relatively constant, valid measure of caries that could be used in conjunction with a comprehensive risk assessment in population-based screenings by school nurses/nurse practitioners, health educators, and physicians to guide them in assessing potential future caries risk for use in prevention and referral practices.