Cavities have been in the news lately. Maybe you have heard about recent study in Australia talking about the slow growth of cavities. Does this mean we can throw our drill away?? Unfortunately, NO! Yes, it takes time for cavities to grow, but this is NOT new news. In fact, this idea has been taught in dental schools for at least the past twenty years. And the idea of managing cavities without drilling is not new either. The concept is called Caries Management By Risk Assessment, or CAMBRA. Dental Caries is the fancy dental term for a cavity. What CAMBRA means is that we as dentists treat patients as individuals. One single cookie-cutter plan made to fit every patient does not exist. What is beneficial for a high-risk patient may not be for low-risk patient. A person at a low risk of cavities would be someone who has good oral hygiene, has not had a cavity in years and is seen every six months. Conditions which may place a person at a high risk of cavities include those who sip on many acidic beverages daily, has a dry mouth, has poor oral hygiene and has many exposed root surfaces. Patients at a higher risk may be recommended to use products such as higher fluoridated toothpaste, fluoride rinses, cavity fighting gum such as xylitol gum and electric toothbrushes.
How are cavities diagnoses? By looking at your teeth and by looking at x-rays of your teeth. When we view x-rays, we are looking for areas where the enamel has dissolved. That is a cavity. Small areas where the cavities are starting are sometimes called an “etch” or a “pre-cavity.” Those are areas where the cavity is confined to the enamel can be reversed with fluoride. Once that cavity reaches the dentin, the layer of tooth structure under enamel, it cannot be reversed and must be filled. Having these “pre-cavities” places you in the high-risk category. Higher fluoride toothpaste is a must.
The key is to make decisions based on YOUR needs. Ask us about your cavity risk at your next appointment!