Bayesian latent variable models for spatially correlated tooth-level binary data in caries research
Statistical Modelling , Volume 11 - Issue 1 p. 25- 47
Analysis of dental caries is traditionally based on aggregated scores, which are summaries of caries experience for each individual. A well-known example of such scores is the decayed, missing and filled teeth or tooth surfaces index introduced in the 1930s. Although these scores have improved our understanding of the pattern of dental caries, there are still some fundamental questions that remain unanswered. As an example, it is well believed among dentists that there are spatial symmetries in the mouth with respect to caries, but this has never been evaluated in a statistical sense. An answer to this question requires the analysis to be performed at subunits within the mouth, which necessitates the use of methods for correlated data. We propose a Bayesian generalized latent variable model coupled with an undirected graphical model to investigate the unique spatial distribution of tooth-level caries outcomes in the mouth. Data from the Signal Tandmobiel® study in Flanders, a dental longitudinal survey, are used to illustrate the methodology.