For decades, widely-accepted dental knowledge held that, if a tooth begins to decay, the best way to “stop the rot” was to remove the decaying portion and fill the cavity with inorganic material like amalgam, composite resin, cast gold, or ceramics as soon as possible. This practice is based on the assumption that tooth decay is progressive and possibly inevitable – if one of your teeth begins to deteriorate, eventually the tooth will decay completely and need to be removed. Fillings, therefore, are a preventive measure in themselves, albeit an extreme one.
A new study conducted by the University of Sydney, however, challenges this long-held assumption by showing that decay actually develops slowly and, if monitored and treated, can prevent the need for fillings. Read on to learn why some researchers think the future of dental care may involve far less drilling than we previously believed we needed.
New No-Drill Dentistry Research
The excited new study, which was conducted over a seven-year period and involved over 1,000 patients at 22 dental practices, compared patients who received the traditional “drill and fill” cavity treatment with those who received other forms of preventive treatments like high concentration fluoride varnish and restrictions on sugary snacks and beverages. The researchers found that, for the group engaged in only preventative measures, the need for fillings declined by 30%-50%.
The study also found that, contrary to popular belief, the kind of tooth decay that leads to fillings occurs over a period of 4-8 years, giving both patients and dentists plenty of time to take proactive steps to treating – and in some cases, even reversing – tooth decay before the damage necessitates the drill. Needless to say, these finding represent a possible shift in how dentists treat signs of early tooth decay in the future.
The more we learn about the causes of tooth decay, the more options dental professionals have for treating dental problems like tooth decay, gingivitis, crooked teeth, wisdom teeth, oral cysts, and oral cancers. The University of Sydney study shows that, when is comes to the early stages of tooth decay, there is more than enough time to detect and treat potential problems before they require serious action. Often, only a doctor can identify the beginning stages of decay, however, so call your dental professional today to schedule a checkup!
Remember: prevention is always better than a cure. Take care of your teeth, and they will last for a lifetime!