'No-Drill' Dentistry Helps Stop Tooth Decay Before It Starts

First Posted: Dec 07, 2015 11:25 PM EST

A new preventative dentistry can stop tooth decay without the typical drilling and filling that come with cavities, according to a recent study.

The seven-year study found that after using this new type of dentistry, the need for fillings was reduced by 30 to 50 percent with the help of preventative oral care. Researchers at the University of Sydney named it the Caries Management System (CMS), which involves a set of protocols that cover the assessment of decay risk, the interpretation of dental X-rays and specific treatments that help stop tooth decay before it starts. 

"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. Our study shows that a preventative approach has major benefits compared to current practice," said lead study author Associate Professor Wendell Evans of the University of Sydney, in a news release

The CMS treatment specifically involves four essential aspects, including the application of high concentration fluoride varnish by dentists to the sites of early decay, attention to home tooth brushing skills, research of between-meal snacks and beverages containing added sugar and risk-specific monitoring.

Researchers first tested the treatment on high-risk patients and then 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. Furthermore, their need for fillings was reduced by 30 to 50 percent when compared to those in the control group. 

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