Men in White Use New Ways to Destroy Dental Decay

Dental decay, once commonly treated with a “drill ‘em and fill ‘em” approach, is now widely being treated as a preventable infectious disease by the dental community. This new treatment method could be the next big dental breakthrough for patients, reports the Academy of General Dentistry.

“In the past, if dental decay progressed and formed a hole in the tooth, it was treated with a dental filling,” explains Douglas A. Young, DDS, MBA, MS, lead author of a new cavity management study in the July/August issue (Volume 50, Number 4) of the clinical, peer- reviewed publication, General Dentistry.

“Now, just like any other medical infection, dentists identify the cavity- causing bacteria (Streptococcus mutans) and then rid the mouth of the bacteria before a cavity is formed,” says Dr. Young. “This program helps consumers avoid a lifetime of dental repairs and take charge of their dental destiny.”

Patients can help treat decay at home when they learn about a proactive program that can prevent, halt or even reverse early cavities. Reducing and eliminating cavity- causing bacteria by using a chemical treatment that contains fluoride, chlorhexidine, iodine, xylitol or baking soda products repairs early tooth decay. Another step, called remineralization, replaces calcium and phosphate minerals that were lost from the tooth when the decay started.

If a filling was inevitable, in the past, dentists would have to wait until the cavity was big enough to be seen by a visual exam or an x-ray. Now, new devices use a laser light that measures unseen cavity-causing bacteria and helps the dentist find an early cavity. This means that there is only a small area to repair and the original tooth is left much stronger than it would be if a large filling was needed.

Cheat sheet for preventing decay

  • Learn how cavities form
  • Ask your dentist how to chemically reduce cavity- causing bacteria
  • Improve your diet and reduce snacking
  • Use a fluoride mouthrinse twice a day
  • Chew sugar-free gum containing xylitol
  • Have a dry mouth? Consider baking soda products