Wow! Have we reached the holy grail of dentistry?
As a practicing dentist for over 30 years I've seen a lot of exciting claims come and go. A lot of them do not live up the the hype.
So lets look at the latest thing to make drill free dentistry just around the corner. in a story I read in the Toronto Star this week ( and identically reported in many other news sources because it is a "press release") King’s College London Professor Dr Nigel Pitts has reportedly developed a method " using electrical currents to help drive minerals into the tooth" . So what does this mean?
A cavity is a "hole" in a tooth. This results from the bacteria living in the mouth on the surfaces of teeth, consuming sugars we eat and producing acids that removes the minerals in the enamel and dentine of our teeth( demineralization). Our saliva naturally counteracts this as much as it is possible between meals doing a bit of remineralization of the enamel and dentine. But this is easily overwhelmed by frequently consuming lots of sugary things. Natural remineralization only helps superficial damage to the tooth if there is a rest period between meals. ( So snacking inhibits this).
When the decay damages the tooth enough there is a hole significant enough that the dentist needs a drill to get to and remove the soft mushy stuff that is there- decayed tooth. This decayed tooth cannot be remineralized. it must be removed and replaced with a solid replacement called a "filling". Think rust on an old car. You cannot turn the rust back to steel.
So what it sounds like Dr Pitts is proposing is a faster way to deal with the most superficial enamel damage that we would never drill out in any case. It will involve, as the press release says; monitoring. We call them check ups. The "growing demand for pain-free, effective solutions to cavities" exists already. Reduce sugars in your diet, proper brushing and flossing and regular dental care.
As you will also note they have formed a company for this product whose research has not as yet even been published to raise money to develop this new product. That is why your read this "article" which is little more that a press release to generate interest.
So don't get too excited, I seriously doubt this will change anything very much.
Dr Steven Rosenblat
Great things start with a smile!