YOUR HEALTH: Repair cavities without a drill

Painless treatment could soon give the green light to treating tooth decay in children

Filling a cavity is no fun. there may be pain, gunfire, numbness, and the harrowing sound of the drill.

But a gentler, gentler way of caring for children with tooth decay is being tested.

And the only tool that is needed is a small brush.

The five-year-old Skye is part of a study that is being conducted at three locations including the University of Iowa that tests silver diamine fluoride (SDF).

It is a treatment to stop tooth decay in children.

“So this is a liquid that contains fluoride, silver, and a high pH liquid that prevents tooth decay from progressing,” said Dr. Margherita Fontana from the University of Michigan School of Dentistry.

Instead of the dreaded drill, the tooth is brushed and dried.

The liquid SDF is then spread on for ten seconds.

There are minimal, if any, side effects.

“She was able to have a drink and something to eat in minutes after leaving the meeting and playing,” said Skye’s mother, Bethany Mattson.

“It makes my teeth shine.”

Around a quarter of children between the ages of two and five have tooth decay.

Half of the children between the ages of six and eight do this.

And it is often higher among minorities and lower socio-economic backgrounds.

“It is a very inexpensive alternative treatment that provides access to medical care for a wide variety of populations who could benefit from treatment for tooth decay,” said Dr. Fontana.

The children are treated every few months for a total of eight months.

For the first time, a research initiative funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is providing up to 19 million people in the United States with access to optimally fluorinated water.

The new fluoridation method is designed to dissolve in a small amount of water, similar to the chlorine tablets used in swimming pools.

The tablet system could allow nearly 32,000 small public utilities, often in underserved rural areas, to contribute to the national healthy people target of providing 77.1% of the US population to fluorinated water by 2030.

Drinking fluoridated water has significantly improved oral health for over 75 years, keeps teeth strong, and reduces tooth decay in children and adults by around 25%.

If this story affects your life or has caused you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Jim Mertens at [email protected] or Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at [email protected].

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