Tooth Decay? Fix it Sans Drill-and-Fill

Melbourne, Australia – Tooth decay can be stopped, reversed and prevented without the need for the traditional ‘drill and fill’ approach that has dominated dental care for decades, a new study has found. 

The results of the seven-year study show that the need for fillings was reduced by 30 to 50 per cent through preventative oral care. 

“Over 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 (dentin). That is plenty of time for the decay to be detected and treated before it becomes a cavity and requires a filling,” said the study’s lead author, associate professor Wendell Evans of the University of Sydney.

Evans and his team developed the Caries Management System (CMS) – a set of protocols that 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 toothbrushing skills, restriction of between-meal snacks and beverages containing added sugar, and risk-specific monitoring. “A tooth should only be drilled and filled where an actual hole-in-the-tooth (cavity) is already evident,” he added.