Lots of people dread going to the dentist because they are afraid of the drill. Modern dentistry techniques may finally be able to banish this pervasive fear. Research now shows that many cases of tooth decay can be treated without fillings.
The research was conducted in Australia and included more than 1,000 patients over the course of seven years. Half the patients got the usual drill and fill treatment, while the other half were treated with a preventive approach called the Caries Management System.
Caries Management System for Tooth Decay:
In this approach, dentists who detected decay but no hole in the tooth applied a high-concentration fluoride solution to the area. In addition, patients were given instruction on effective tooth brushing technique and advice to avoid between-meal snacks and beverages, especially those containing sugar. The progress of the tooth was monitored periodically.
The patients getting this preventive care needed 30 to 50 percent fewer fillings during the study, on average, and those who were at particularly high risk saw an 80 percent drop in the number of fillings they needed. The authors conclude that a lot of tooth decay could be prevented and even reversed with non-invasive dental hygiene techniques.
Community Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology, online, December 7, 2015
Once a cavity has appeared, the hole needs to be filled. There is considerable controversy over the merits of amalgam (silver-looking fillings that contain mercury) versus composite (a hard synthetic material) in creating the filling. Being able to avoid the need for a filling completely by preventing the cavity would definitely have advantages.