Washington DC: In the future, you may never have to face the dreaded dentist drill, as a new study has found a drill-free way of treating tooth decay.
The University of Sydney study has revealed that tooth decay (dental caries) can be stopped, reversed and prevented without the need for the traditional 'fill and drill' approach that has dominated dental care for decades.
The results of the seven year study found that the need for fillings was reduced by 30 to 50 per cent through preventative oral care.
"It's unnecessary for patients to have fillings because they're not required in many cases of dental decay," said lead author Wendell Evans, adding that this research signals the need for a major shift in the way tooth decay is managed by dentists; dental practice in Australia needs to change.
Evans noted that the study shows that a preventative approach has major benefits compared to current practice.
The 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 treatment 'no-drill' 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 and Risk-specific monitoring.
Evans noted that the CMS was first tested on high risk patients at Westmead Hospital with great success, showing that early decay could be stopped and reversed and that the need for drilling and filling was reduced dramatically.
The study appears in Community Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology.