Fillings are one of the most common procedures in dentistry, but it may not be as necessary as we thought. That’s according to new research released by the University of Sydney, which has proposed a new cavity management system that could reduce the need for fillings by 30-50%.
Cavity Management, Not Treatment
The basic premise behind this new approach to cavities is that our approach to cavities was developed when we thought they were much more aggressive than they are. It turns out that under most conditions these days cavities grow a lot more slowly than we thought in the past. It can take a full four to 8 years to grow through the enamel into the dentin.
With that long time frame, we have more ability to wait and see how cavities are developing before placing a filling.
In the meantime, then, we can attempt to use techniques that can slow, and in some cases reverse the growth of cavities. They call this approach the Caries Management System (CMS), and it includes:
- Using fluoride varnish at the first signs of decay
- Additional education and counseling on oral hygiene
- Reduced between-meal snacking and avoidance of sugary and acidic foods, including diet sodas
- Close monitoring by dentists specific to patient risks
Obviously, this approach requires active participation both by the dentist and the patient. Many of these steps are done by the patient at home, while others are done by the dentist in the office.
During initial testing this approach was used on high-risk patients, and it was found to reduce the need for fillings by 30 to 50%.
Preserving Your Natural Teeth
We have always thought it best to use a conservative approach to fillings and other reconstructive dentistry. Your natural teeth are very valuable, and there’s no way to replace enamel once lost. While this new CMS has not been fully tested and verified, we have to say that we agree with its goals.