What’s the Deal With ‘No-Drill’ Dentistry?
No one looks forward to having their cavities drilled and filled. For some people, just the fear of drilling keeps them out of the dentist’s office for years at a time. Unfortunately, that aversion to the drill, and other dental services, often results in the need for more extensive procedures to repair decayed teeth later on. But what if you didn’t need to have that tooth drilled to save it?
This is the idea behind one of the latest trends in dental treatment – no-drill dentistry. Dentists who subscribe to the principles of no drill dentistry believe that by changing our approach to preventative care, we can effectively eliminate the need for drilling. But is this a viable course of treatment, or just wishful thinking? Let’s take look at the history of no-drill dentistry to get a better understanding of how it works.
No-drill dentistry began as the result of research on tooth decay.
For many years, dental professionals believed that once tooth decay began to set in, its progress was inevitable and relatively quick. Then, a seven year study conducted by a team in Australia cast some serious doubts on that belief. The study found that it typically takes between four to eight years for decay to progress from a tooth’s outer layer (enamel) to its inner layer (dentine). Furthermore, the researchers found that this four to eight year window is plenty of time to treat tooth decay before cavities develop. By employing preventative care strategies early on, the researchers were able to reduce the need for fillings by 30 to 50 percent.
“It’s unnecessary for patients to have fillings because they’re not required in many cases of dental decay,” said Wendell Evans, the study’s lead author and Associate Professor at The University of Sydney. “Our study shows that a preventative approach has major benefits compared to current practice.”
So what does this preventative approach look like in practice?
There are three components to the approach. The first involves making sure patients are educated about proper home dental care procedures. Recent research has also demonstrated that a regular brushing and flossing regimen can be very effective at slowing and even stopping tooth decay. The second component of this approach involves adjusting a patient’s diet to make it more tooth-friendly. Dentists should advise patients to cut out sugary beverages and limit snacking between meals, for example. Finally, dentists will typically apply a fluoride varnish to the site of early tooth decay to slow its progress as well. Throughout the preventative process, patients will need regular checkups from their dentist to monitor the decay as well.
In fact, this approach isn’t an entirely new idea. “This is a standard approach for those children identified as high-caries [cavity] risk,” said Dr. Paul Crespi, director of pediatric dental medicine at Cohen Children’s Medical Center in a recent interview with Health Magazine. “These patients are treated with fluoride varnishes, dietary modification, and therapeutic dental materials that have the capacity to reverse dental caries without placing fillings.”
Modern Family Dental Care
Concord, NC 28027
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Modern Family Dental Care
Charlotte, NC 28269