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Tooth Decay Arrested Without a Dental Drill

Using a comprehensive preventive approach to tooth decay can dramatically reduce the number of fillings that a person needs.
Tooth Decay Arrested Without a Dental Drill
CC0 from https://pixabay.com/en/dentist-dental-hygiene-healthcare-676421/

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.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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