Yep By: Healthy Options Staff
If you really, really dislike visits to the dentist you are going to really, really like what I’m about to share with you, so I will just cut to the chase…
A University of Sydney study has revealed that tooth decay can be stopped, reversed, and prevented in ways other than the traditional — and often painful — method of treatment referred to as ‘drill and fill,’ that has dominated dental care for decades.
At the core of this change is one significant piece of information…
“For a long time it was believed that tooth decay was a rapidly progressive phenomenon and the best way to manage it was to identify early decay and remove it immediately in order to prevent a tooth surface from breaking up into cavities,” said the study’s lead author, Associate Professor Wendell Evans of the University of Sydney. “After removing the decay, the affected tooth is then restored with a filling material — this process is sometimes referred to as ‘drilling and filling.’
“However, 50 years of research studies have shown that decay is not always progressive and develops more slowly than was previously believed. For example, it takes an average of four to eight years for decay to progress from the tooth’s outer layer (enamel) to the inner layer (dentine).
“That is plenty of time for the decay to be detected and treated before it becomes a cavity and requires a filling.”
Because of these findings, Professor Evans and his team developed the Caries Management System (CMS) — a set of protocols which cover the assessment of decay risk, the interpretation of dental X-rays, and specific treatment of early decay (decay that is not yet a cavity).
The CMS ‘no-drill’ treatment involves four aspects:
- Application of high concentration fluoride varnish by dentists to the sites of early decay
- Attention to home tooth brushing skills
- Restriction of between-meal snacks and beverages containing added sugar
- Risk-specific monitoring
“The CMS was first tested on high risk patients at Westmead Hospital with great success,” said Professor Evans.
“It showed that early decay could be stopped and reversed and that the need for drilling and filling was reduced dramatically.
“A tooth should be only be drilled and filled where an actual hole-in-the-tooth (cavity) is already evident,” he said.
The CMS treatment was then tested in general dental practices in New South Wales and Australian Capital Territory. The Monitor Practice Program (MPP), funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia (NHMRC), confirmed that after seven years, decay risk was substantially reduced among the CMS patients and their need for fillings was reduced by 30 to 50 percent compared to the control group.
“The reduced decay risk and reduced need for fillings was understandably welcomed by patients,” Professor Evans said. “However, patients play an important role in their treatment. This treatment will need a partnership between dentists and patients to be most successful.”
There’s no indication if American dentists will be following suit with this new protocol, but it wouldn’t hurt, at least not as much as a filling, to discuss it at your next dental appointment.