No Need to ‘Drill and Fill’ With New Dental Development

In dentistry, as in most medical fields, prevention and early detection and treatment of conditions are crucial. And thanks to a new development, identifying the early stages of tooth decay, the most common infection in the world,  just became a little easier. According to a recent article from Science Daily, Douglas Benn, D.D.S., Ph.D., has created a liquid solution that can make diagnosis of tooth decay both simple and pain-free.

The solution is applied to the surface of a patient’s teeth just before a dental X-ray, and  allows the dentist to easily identify tooth decay, hopefully at an early stage.  Caries have two stages: an initial non-cavitated state when the decay can be stopped and no filling is needed, and a later state where a filling is necessary to stop the decay from progressing. At present time, there is not a test to determine the difference between the two states which has led to the standard procedure of “drilling and filling,” which in many cases isn’t necessary.

“Most dentists see decay and they go to the drill and the filling,” said Benn. “Once a tooth is filled, it leads to a repair-destruction cycle for the rest of the patient’s life.”

With the use of the diagnostic liquid solution, Benn has estimated that 50% of cases resulting in dental fillings today could be avoided or delayed, saving both time and money. The American Dental Association indicates that nearly two-thirds of fillings will need to be repeated over the course of a lifetime, which can cost a patient an average of $2,000 per filled tooth over the years. The liquid can not only help keep the drill at bay, but it can also help dentists identify more infection that could otherwise go unnoticed. Funding for the the research into this new development has been provided partly by the National Institutes of Health and by a grant from the Nebraska Department of Economic Development.

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