risk – The probability that an event will occur. Teeth erupt free of caries, but from eruption onward they are at risk of developing dental caries, depending upon the risk factors; those that induce the disease and those that prevent the disease.

risk assessment – This is the qualitative or quantitative estimation of adverse effects that may result from exposure to specific hazards or absence of biological influences. The importance of risk assessment in clinical dental practice is recognized as relevant by dental insurers. For further information see CAMBRA (Caries Management by Risk Assessment).

risk factor – Any factor that will increase or decrease the probability of an event occurring. Risk factors for caries are environmental, biological, or social. Environmental factors include the availability of sugars in the diet, fluoride availability in water, or toothpaste. Biological factors include saliva quantity and quality. Social factors include age and socio-economic status.

risk survey – This is a tool, usually a specifically designed form, that captures specific information about key factors that may impact the patient’s oral health. It is used to aid the dental professional in assessing the individual caries risk potential for a patient.