Preventative treatment reduces the need for drilling and filling cavities.
In what would be good news for a lot of people afraid to go to the dentist for oral health care due to being afraid of the possible pain caused by drilling out decay, a new study says early decay can be stopped and reversed before drilling becomes necessary, according to an article on smh.com.
Associate Professor Wendell Evans, lead investigator of the seven-year oral health study into “no-drill dentistry” at Sydney University, said the need for fillings could be reduced by 80 percent in high-risk patients.
Evans added the results of the study revealed a need for dentists to get away from the traditional approach of drilling out decay, saying it was unnecessary in many cases of dental decay.
The researchers looked at more that 1,000 patients at 22 dental practices, including some areas where water was fluoridated and some areas that were not. Half of the patients were treated in the traditional manner, and the other half used the Caries Management System, an approach used where decay was detected but no hole had yet formed in the tooth.
The Caries Management System included an application by the dentist of a high concentration fluoride varnish on a tooth with early signs of decay, advising the patient on a better way of brushing, restriction of snacks and sugary beverages, and monitoring.
According to the results, the need for filling was reduced by 30-50 percent in patients using the preventative care as compared to those using conventional methods. The result was even greater with high-risk patients, having an 80 percent reduction.
Calling for prevention to be introduced as a new pathway for dentistry, Evans said the cost for the preventative approach was about the same for the average patient, and only slightly higher for the more high-risk patients, but fear of the drill is stopping many people from visiting the dentist and removing that fear could bring more people in for regular oral care.
Evans added there is plenty of time for decay to be detected and treated before it becomes a cavity, and that a tooth should be drilled only when there is an actual hole in the tooth.
Findings from the study were published in Community Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology.