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Options for Treating Cavities Without Drills

Perfect Smile of a Woman
Nobody likes to visit the dentist. Check-ups aren't too bad, but getting a tooth drilled to have a cavity filled is often on people's lists of things to avoid when possible. However, new discoveries in dental treatments may make it possible to sometimes avoid the drill when dealing with cavities.
Carries Management System Treatment
CMS minimizes the risk of decay and cavities by up to 50 percent. Decay can take between four and eight years to turn into an actual cavity. With early signs, a fluoride wash is applied, and people are taught better brushing techniques and to avoid sugary drinks and snacks between meals. This can reverse the decay.
Cold Plasma Brush Cleaning
Although CMS is only useful before cavities have formed, a new invention called a cold plasma brush may be even more effective than a drill for cleaning out cavities and preparing teeth for fillings. This tool is still under development, but early tests are promising and the treatment appears to be side-effect free.
Resin Infiltration
A treatment currently used in Germany and in clinical trials in the U.S. uses a process called resin infiltration to fill small cavities in between teeth without the need for anesthetic or drills. It limits the need to remove healthy teeth structure. A gel cleans the area, the resin is inserted through a perforated sheet of plastic, then the resin is cured with a special light.
Laser Cavity Treatment
Although not currently available in all dental offices, lasers can be used both to detect cavities and to remove bacteria and damaged parts of teeth in preparation for fillings. Anesthesia usually isn't necessary during this process as it isn't typically painful. Lasers can also limit tooth sensitivity and treat certain other dental issues.
Silver Diamine Fluoride
SDF, also called Advantage Arrest, is a liquid that can be applied to small cavities to stop cavities from getting worse and to prevent future cavities. It only takes 30 seconds to apply and is less expensive than a traditional filling. However, this method does turn the spot with the cavity from brown to black, so iSDF may be best for baby teeth or back teeth.
Tideglusib
This medication used in Alzheimer's treatment may stimulate a tooth's stem cells to produce dentine and replace the parts of teeth destroyed by cavities. Research is currently in the early stages. Further research using people is necessary to determine whether collagen sponges soaked in Tideglusib placed in cavities will regenerate teeth as they did in mice.
Laser Tooth Regeneration
Another potential method for regenerating dental tissue being researched is shining a low-power laser light directly on the tooth pulp to stimulate stem cells to regrow dentin as part of root canal treatment. With this method, a cap would still be necessary to top off the tooth, and some other method would be needed to expose the dentin (such as a laser if avoiding drilling).
Potential Considerations
The availability of many of these treatments is limited at this time. Laser treatment is the most readily available in the U.S. Also, these treatments may not be covered by dental insurance. Many of these treatments work best when decay and cavities are caught early and the area for treatment is still small, as not all treatments can fill in holes left by cavities.
Also, while no-drill cavity treatments may be an improvement over the traditional combination of anesthesia and drilling to fill cavities, cavity prevention is still the best way to avoid the drill at your next dental visit. Brush and floss at least twice a day, visit the dentist for regular cleanings, and limit between-meal snacking and sweetened beverages.
Contact Vicki Vida Kestler, DDS, for more information on no-drill dentistry. The office also provides most other dental services you may need from cleanings to cosmetic dentistry procedures.