Dental caries continues to be the most prevalent oral disease in spite of remarkable progress made during the past half- century to reduce its prevalence. Conventional procedures for caries detection are unable to detect the lesions until they are well advanced and involve about one-third of the thickness of enamel. Laboratory research on alternative caries detection methods based upon alterations in the conductance and optical properties associated with enamel demineralization has shown significant promise in recent years. Of these alternative measures, quantitative laser/light fluorescence appears to show the greatest promise for the detection of dental caries at a much earlier stage of development than is currently possible. A clinical trial was initiated in 150 children to evaluate, compare and validate several caries detection methods; in addition to the conventional diagnostic procedure, these detection methods involved quantitative light fluorescence, electrical conductivity, and direct digital radiography. Although the clinical trial is not yet complete, early results suggest the possibility for the earlier detection of dental caries with these alternative methods.