Document Type


Date of Degree

Summer 2019

Access Restrictions

Access restricted until 09/04/2020

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Oral Science

First Advisor

Warren, John

First Committee Member

Kolker, Justine

Second Committee Member

Carter, Knute

Third Committee Member

Gaeth, Gary J

Fourth Committee Member

Shane, Dan

Fifth Committee Member

Kateeb, Elham


The treatment of deep carious lesions (DCLs) represents a challenge for dentists, as these lesions require removal of dentin in proximity to the pulp that represents a higher risk of ending in pulp exposure. There is increasing evidence supporting minimally invasive caries removal methods, such as stepwise excavation procedure (SWP), instead of non-selective (complete) dentin caries removal for the treatment of DCLs. However, recent research has indicated that dentists have not completely adopted less invasive caries removal methods for the management of DCLs. These studies have been primarily conducted in Europe or South America; thus, few studies have been conducted in the United States to understand dentists’ management options of deep carious lesions in permanent teeth. Additionally, the proportion of dentists who would be willing to adopt less invasive carious tissue removal is unknown, especially in the United States.

This dissertation consists of three studies that analyzed the effectiveness of SWP, the factors associated with success, an assessment of its costs and the acceptability of this treatment among U.S dentists.

Study I assessed the patient factors predicting a successful SWP by retrospectively investigating a sample from the University of Iowa College of Dentistry from January 2004 through December 2012. Study I showed that SWPs showed a 75% success rate when evaluated within 36 months of the initial treatment. Patients who had a successful SWP treatment were slightly younger than patients whose SWP treatment was not successful.

Study II performed a cost-effectiveness analysis by comparing SWP vs. the standard caries treatment (complete caries removal). Study II showed that SWP significantly reduced cost, resulting in an average savings of 64% compared to TCR over a 5-year period.

Study III consisted of a statewide survey that contacted 1,434 Iowa dentists with the aim of identifying the most important factors that influence dentists’ decisions for DCLs treatment using conjoint analysis. From the total, 36.4% (n=522) clinicians answered the survey. One of the main study findings was that among the three factors (hardness of dentin, depth of the lesion and patient age) depth of the lesion was the most important factor influencing dentists’s decision when selecting a less invasive caries removal method. Study III did not find any significant association between years of practicing dentistry, type of practice and practice setting regarding being willing to select a less invasive caries removal method.

In conclusion, this dissertation has demonstrated that the stepwise caries removal is a cost-saving and highly successful treatment for the management of deep caries lesions. Studies I and II have shown that this method has a high clinical success rate and less long-term treatment costs. Regarding the acceptability of SWP among clinicians, this dissertation has shown that most dentists in Iowa would consider less invasive caries methods for a DCL; however, these techniques have not been completely adopted and accepted among American dentists. Thus, dentists should be trained in less invasive caries methods, given instruction about which criteria they should use to assess a DCL, and provide them with the best evidence-based strategies for managing deep lesions. The findings of this dissertation should engage stakeholders to provide dentists with professional incentives for using these techniques. Specifically, our results support the idea that SWP minimizes costs while providing the appropriate patient care.


Deep carious lesion, Extensive caries lesions, Less invasive caries removal, Stepwise caries removal


xix, 202 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 194-202).


Copyright © 2019 Paula Ortega-Verdugo

Available for download on Friday, September 04, 2020