A new in vivo method for measuring caries activity with a colorimeter.
ABSTRACT The aim of this in vivo study was to assess the association between caries prevalence and changes in mineralization measured with a colorimeter (Color Compare CC 400, JENOPTIK, Jena, Germany). After a clinical examination (defs/DMFS, initial caries lesions), an area of a deciduous tooth was etched in each of the 35 children (psi = 8.11+/-2.41 years) with 37% phosphoric acid gel for 1 min. Immediately after, this demineralization was stained with 2% aqueous methylene blue and the red/green/blue spectrum measured with a colorimeter. Twenty-four hours later, the remineralization of this area was measured following the same staining procedure. Color measurements were clearly reduced after 24 h, indicating remineralization, and they correlated highly with the age of the children (Spearman correlation coefficient r = -0.48, p = 0.004). Correlations between the number of initial caries lesions in the deciduous and permanent dentition and color measurements after demineralization were statistically significant (r = 0.41 and 0.37, p = 0.02 and 0.045, respectively). The difference between the first and second measurements correlated significantly with the number of initial caries lesions in the permanent dentition (r = 0.42, p = 0.02). The values after artificial demineralization correlated with the number of initial lesions for the permanent (r = 0.368, p = 0.045) and deciduous (r = 0.408, p = 0.015) dentition. This resistance to artificial demineralization had stronger correlation coefficients with the caries incidence than the caries experience and initial lesions, which are considered to be the most valid caries predictors. In conclusion, these data suggest that the degree of demineralization after etching and its changes with time could be associated with caries parameters. Its use in prospective clinical trials on caries activity could be a successful approach.