A dentist and her assistant prepare to clean a patient's teeth at a… (Sean Gallup / Getty Images )
Cavity-prone patients, rejoice: There may soon be less reason to avoid those dentists’ chairs -- researchers have developed a drill-free way to fix and fill teeth.
NPR reports on a method that would use a little bit of acid to clear out the gunk and then, using resin, fill the porous areas created by caries.
Unlike those shrill drills, the method would also be able to address intermediate cavities on their way to becoming bigger problems. Large cavities can be drilled, and tiny cavities can be fought at home with plenty of fluoride, brushing and flossing. But those mid-size cavities can’t be drilled until they grow – which means more of the tooth’s own substance is lost before a dentist can intervene.
This method isn’t coming to dentists’ offices anytime soon, so in the meantime, it might be best to focus on keeping those teeth in top shape to avoid the dentists’ drill. The American Dental Hygienists' Assn. provides some handy guidelines on fluoride use to prevent tooth decay (and the Scientific American explains why fluoride works so well.) The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research also recommends getting a sealant on those puppies as soon as the adult teeth start moving in.
-- Amina Khan / Los Angeles Times
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