Classifications employed to measure dental caries should first of all reflect the dynamics of the disease, in order to provide a solid basis for subsequent treatment decisions and for further monitoring of dental health of individual patients and populations. The contemporary philosophy of dental caries management implies that nonoperative treatment of caries lesions should be implemented whenever possible, limiting operative interventions to the severe and irreversible cases. The ORCA Saturday Afternoon Symposium 2016, held back-to-back to the 63rd ORCA Congress in Athens, Greece, was intended to provide an update on general requirements for clinical caries diagnosis and to overview caries diagnostic classifications including their rationale, validation, advantages, and limitations. Clinical caries diagnostic criteria and caries management outcomes are interrelated, and any diagnostic classification disregarding this concept is outdated, according to the current understanding of oral health care. Choosing clinical caries diagnostic classifications that assess the activity status of detected lesions should be a priority for dental professionals since these classifications favor the best clinical practice directed towards nonoperative interventions. The choice of clinical caries diagnostic classifications in research, in clinical practice, and in public health services should be guided by the best available scientific evidence. The clinical caries diagnostic classifications should be universally applicable in all these fields. Policy making in oral health care and the underlying policy analyses should follow the same standards. Any clinical caries diagnostic classification disregarding the universality of its use is of limited or no interest in the context of the clinical caries diagnosis of today.

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