Employee Benefits

New Dental Techniques Help Ease Fears

dental exam

Over 20 percent of people avoid scheduling dental appointments due to fear and anxiety, often due to the sounds of the dental drill. According to WebMD, these fears soon may be eased as dentists explore three new treatment techniques:

Air abrasion – Some dentists are using an air abrasion tool to spray away decay. It works similar to a mini sandblaster. The abrasion tool shoots a fine stream of particles, such as silica, aluminum oxide or a baking soda mixture, against the teeth and gums to remove small amounts of decay. A rubber dam is affixed in the back of the mouth to keep particles from escaping down the patient’s throat. A dental suction tool is used to remove debris and saliva. WebMD provides these additional details:

  • The procedure is safe as it doesn’t generate any heat, vibration or pressure.
  • Patients feel minimal pain, reducing the need for anesthesia, especially if the cavity is small.
  • It is not an effective treatment for deep cavities.
  • If decay is located under enamel, a dental drill is required to reach it. After that, air abrasion can complete the repair.
  • It cannot be used to complete dental preparations for crowns, root canals, onlays or inlays. However, air abrasion can be used for bonding and sealants.

No-drill method – Researchers have discovered that a dental drill may not be required to eliminate tooth decay. In a study conducted over seven years, they observed a 30 to 50 percent decrease in patients needing dental restorations when preventive care measures were adopted at the first sign of decay. Dental decay develops more slowly than previously thought, making it possible to keep it under control through these steps:

  • Gently brushing teeth after breakfast and before bedtime (for at least two minutes each time) to remove sugars, food particles and plaque.
  • Flossing gently once daily to clean between teeth.
  • Applying high concentrations of fluoride varnish to teeth with decay (consult with your dentist).
  • Avoiding between-meal snacks and sugary beverages.
  • Scheduling regular dental checkups to monitor decay.

Anti-cavity pill – Scientists at the University of Florida recently discovered a strain of healthy oral bacteria that can keep decay from forming or spreading. Researchers are using this information to develop a pill patients can take to prevent the development of cavities.

  • The supplement would fight harmful oral bacteria with beneficial oral bacteria.
  • An oral bacteria screening could show if a person has increased susceptibility to cavities.
  • Researchers received a five-year grant to study good and bad oral bacteria, and how they impact dental decay.