Over the last century effectively treating tooth decay has often required removing any decayed structure by drilling and then filling the remaining cavity. This method is an extremely invasive way to teeth tooth decay. While this approach does save teeth that might otherwise be lost, it can also result in a fair amount of healthy structure removed in the process. Thanks to new advances in dentistry, there are now less invasive approaches for tooth decay treatment.
It is best to preserve as much of the healthy portions of the tooth as possible. This new way is often referred to as minimally invasive dentistry. The solutions are digital and laser options instead of traditional methods of dental restoration and treatment. The primary goal of minimally invasive dental treatment is to intercept and treat decay as early as possible to minimize tooth damage.
It begins with helping patients identify their own individual risk factors for decay such as the presence of disease-causing bacteria, the adequacy of their saliva flow, or their lifestyle and dietary habits. We then recommend changes or preventive measures to reduce those risks.
The next step in minimally invasive dentistry is using various diagnostic technologies to find decay as early as possible.
The role of technology in treating tooth decay
Digital X-rays continue to play a major role; digital x-rays are a more advanced form of x-ray that enables your dentist to have a clearer 3D view of all your teeth and your jaw. Dr JJ Serfontein also uses dental microscopy to magnify the earliest forms of decay. In some cases, laser fluorescence, infrared photography and optical scanning are utilised to further detect tooth decay that would otherwise be difficult to detect with the naked eye.
In regard to treatments, minimally invasive dentistry adopts the ‘less is more’, ‘prevention is better the cure’ approach. If caught early enough, we can encourage the re-mineralization of your natural tooth enamel that acid has eroded. Many dentists now turn to air abrasion instead of the dental drill for decay removal; the equipment that emits a fine stream of abrasive particles that harms the less healthy structure than a drill would.
And if lasers continue to develop at their current pace, we will be able to use dental technology to perform more precise decay treatments than we can with manual instruments. As a result, there will be less tooth structure loss and more attractive and healthy smiles. If you would like more information on the latest techniques for treating tooth decay, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation with Dr JJ Serfontein.