In a perfect world, teeth would never decay. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world. So dental professionals are left with the task of removing decay and filling the space with tooth-like composite materials. Thanks to the diligent work of material scientists across the world, the quality of these composites has made restorations more predictable and long-lasting than ever. But wouldn’t it be nice if cavities can be fixed without drilling and filling?
A lot of attention has been paid recently to the use of bioactive particles to fill microscopic holes that are believed to be one cause of tooth sensitivity. These particles, in addition to fluoride, have been used in pastes to harden teeth and fill the naturally-occuring microscopic holes and therefore reduce tooth sensitivity. New evidence suggests that these bioactive particles have the potential to reverse cavities!
Most cavities start in the outer layer of the tooth, called the enamel. As acid produced by bacteria break down the mineral content of the enamel, a small cavity forms. The cavity increases in size when bacteria continue to produce acid and the mineral content continues to be broken down. Eventually the cavity reaches the inner layer of the tooth, called the dentin. At this point, the cavity must be removed and filled. But if the cavity is caught in its earliest stages (called an incipiency or incipient decay) during a routine checkup, it is possible that the application of a paste or gel containing bioactive glass particles can actually reverse the decay process and restore the tooth to health without the need for drilling and filling.
While these products are still in development, they offer the potential to reduce overall dental healthcare costs for many patients across the globe. Of course the success of such therapy still depends on routine cleanings, examinations, and radiographs in order to catch the decay in its early stages. Your team at Valley Dental Health is always exploring less invasive ways to restore your smile to health and function. Please feel free to contact us with any questions regarding your dental health.