That familiar buzzing of the dentist’s drill is enough to insight fear and panic into a lot of patients. Although having a tooth drilled into isn’t the most pleasant experience, most patients can agree that it is a necessary part of protecting your smile from any additional damage. This long-time approach to dentistry is now being called into question after recent studies suggest that no-drill dentistry can be just as effective. Does this mean that tooth extraction and restorative options like dental implants should be avoided? Absolutely not! Once tooth decay reaches the point where tooth loss or tooth extraction will occur, we suggest restoring your missing teeth as soon as possible to minimize the damage that can occur to the rest of your teeth. However, some studies suggest that we are too quick to use the old “drill and fill” method for tooth decay that can be reversed. To explain more on this subject, Dr. K. Ashraf gives his readers here in Waterloo, ON an in-depth look at no-drill dentistry.
So, what’s the classic method used for dealing with any signs of dental decay? The drill and fill technique has been an approach that has been around for decades. Dentists will detect early signs of decay and prevent the development of a cavity by drilling into the tooth and using a filling material. This method for preventing a cavity outbreak has been a staple approach in the field of dentistry for years.
In fact, a drill is a tool that has been around for thousands of years. The drill is believed to have first appeared in 7000 BC in the Indus Valley civilization, where the bow drill was used for the production of beads and jewelry. The first mechanical drill used for dentistry was invented in 1790 by John Greenwood and featured a dental foot engine. Others continued to improve upon this creation until the first electric dental drill was invented by George F. Green in 1875. From this point, dental drills have progressed into the effective, quick tools they are today.
Now that we know a bit more about the dental drill and why it’s used, let’s take a look at recent studies that suggest a no-drill approach can be more effective. The old “drill and fill” approach to dentistry is based on the belief that tooth decay is a rapidly progressive problem. In truth, tooth decay can take years until an actual cavity has developed. Researchers from the University of Sydney say that it can take up to eight years for tooth decay to progress from the tooth enamel to the dentin. If proper preventative measures are taken during this time, drilling and filling the tooth may not be necessary.
The study from The University of Sydney looked at different patients for a seven-year period and found that the need for fillings fell 30-50% if the proper preventative measures were taken at the first sign of tooth decay. Researchers created a method called the Caries Management System (CMS) to help stop, reverse, and prevent dental decay before the drill and fill technique is ever needed. Some of the techniques that should be used in the Caries Management System include:
Although this no-drill approach is a great way to prevent and reverse tooth decay, it’s important to note that fillings will always be necessary for full-blown cavities that have developed. Once tooth decay has developed into a cavity, your dentist will need to stop the cavity from getting any bigger by drilling into the site and filling it.
The no-drill approach is appropriate for many cases of early decay. However, it won’t be an effective solution for patients dealing with severe oral health problems like tooth loss. If you’ve experienced tooth loss, it’s crucial to restore your smile as soon as possible. Treating your tooth loss will help prevent additional damage to your remaining teeth. We’ve seen many of our patients benefit from the natural look and longevity of dental implants. To get started on your dental implant process, contact our office today to schedule your one-on-one consultation with Dr. Ashraf.