While many of us may run to the dentist as soon as something painful occurs, the truth is, we should be more eager to go when things are alright. Preventive dentistry services are really where patients focus should be–while restorative procedures are a blessing for dental caries, nothing can restore the functionality of your enamel.

Besides going to the dentist, what else can you do to prevent decay from taking hold? An article released in December has some good ideas:

Which Treatments are Most Effective for Caries Prevention?

The most widespread diseases in “civilized populations,” with a prevalence of 40% in 7-year-old boys and 85% in 17-year-old boys, the study authors noted. However, some evidence has shown that dental caries incidence in 5- to 17-year-olds has decreased around 36% in recent decades, with half of children caries-free.

With that in mind, the researchers from Italy conducted a comprehensive literature search in four databases for systematic reviews of treatments for preventing caries conducted by “renowned” scientific institutions and published from 2002 through 2015.

They found 30 eligible systematic reviews that met all of the study’s requirements, 20 of which were conducted by the Cochrane Oral Health Group. Four researchers independently reviewed the articles that were identified.

The researchers summarized the results of the reviews, dividing them into three categories by treatment:

  • Fluoride gel, toothpaste, and mouthrinses
  • Pit-and-fissure sealants
  • Fluoridated supplements, water, and milk

Overall, they found that topical application of fluoride gel and fluoride supplements appear to be convenient and inexpensive methods of reducing caries. Also, pit-and-fissure sealants and fluoride varnishes appear to effectively reduce caries risk, they concluded. Read full article here . . .

Fluoride gels and supplements are not only convenient, but much more affordable than major restorations.

You may be wondering, what if these preventative methods fail, what are your options? Thankfully there are quite a few different fillings materials (silver amalgam, porcelain, gold, composite) which can be used depending on your budget, aesthetic needs, insurance coverage, etc. And perhaps one day, patients may be lucky enough to repair their teeth through other means after decay. Take a look:

Study Offers New Treatment for Larger Caries

January 9, 2017 — Soon you might be treating your patient’s caries with a collagen sponge filled with a drug — first tested to treat Alzheimer’s patients — that stimulates the natural ability of teeth to restore dentine.

A study published January 9 in Scientific Reports by researchers in the U.K. documented a new method of stimulating the renewal of living stem cells in tooth pulp. While still needing human clinical trials, this approach may allow large cavities to be repaired without the use of cement or fillings.

“The simplicity of our approach makes it ideal as a clinical dental product for the natural treatment of large cavities, by providing both pulp protection and restoring dentine,” stated lead study author Paul Sharpe, PhD, in a press release. “In addition, using a drug that has already been tested in clinical trials for Alzheimer’s disease provides a real opportunity to get this dental treatment quickly into clinics.”

Sharpe is the head of the craniofacial development and stem cell biology division at the King’s College London Dental Institute . . .

After removing caries decay, a tooth’s soft inner pulp is exposed, and a natural dentine repair process begins. This process uses a form of stem cells in the patient’s mouth that becomes new cells. These cells release a form of reparative dentine, according to the study authors. Read the full here . . .

There isn’t any news about this kind of approach being given to the general public, but because Paul Sharpe (the study author) says that it’s been used in clinical trials, this treatment is definitely a possibility in the future. This kind of treatment would be amazing for patients who try their hardest at preventative methods but still get caries despite their best efforts.

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