The ICDAS concept is that the use of a standardised system, based on best available evidence for detecting early and later stage caries severity, should lead to the acquisition of better quality information which could then be used to inform decisions about appropriate diagnosis, prognosis, and clinical management of dental caries at both the individual and public health levels.
As well as ICDAS being a coding classification there are simple, standard examination processes employed as part of the system. An important element of the examination is the cleaning of teeth to aid detection since caries forms where there has been plaque stagnation. In addition, the use of compressed air is necessary to reveal the earliest visual signs of caries.
To facilitate the use of ICDAS in different settings there is a range of validated tools to select from, much as you would select the appropriate clothes from your wardrobe depending on what you were doing that day.
This ‘wardrobe’ of validated tools allows users to select the best criteria and conventions for each specific application of the system. Adoption of the system should, in the longer term, also facilitate the work of those who subsequently seek to systematically review published evidence in the fields of caries epidemiology/public health, caries research, and clinical caries management. The system is designed as an open system maintained on the World Wide Web and is subject to peer review and linked to dental education.
Users of the system are required to:
1) specifically acknowledge the version of the system they employ and
2) specify which part(s) of the ‘ICDAS wardrobe’ is/are being used.