The future for our smiles looks bright but don?t throw your toothbrush away just yet! Stella Phillips, dental health educator at Bayside Dental DB, talks drill-less dentistry, tooth regeneration and good-old fluoride
Are there any new methods to prevent tooth decay?
There is a giant amount of research currently underway. One of the most interesting in terms of prevention comes from Japanese researchers who have discovered a method in which hydroxyapatite (a biomaterial) can be applied as a barrier to your teeth in thicknesses as low as 0.00016 inches. A fascinating treatment method that?s under development is tooth regeneration gel. Instead of drilling and filling, dentists of the future may be able to apply a thin gel containing melanocyte-stimulating hormone (MSH) to the cavity. Currently there are positive results from studies on mice teeth but human studies have yet to be carried out!
What are dental sealants, and how long do they last?
Dental sealants are placed on the occlusal (biting) surface of molars to prevent dental caries (tooth decay). They fill in the pits and fissures of the teeth in order to reduce food trapping. Sealants are suitable for children, adolescents and adults, and can be expected to last at least five years.
When will drill-less dentistry become a reality?
Drill-less dentistry is already happening ? conservative techniques are constantly being developed in order to reduce the classic image of a drill-happy dentist. There are a number of methods out there to remove decay from your teeth. These include hard-tissue lasers and air abrasion, but the most effective way is still with a dental drill.
Is there a way to prevent gums receding?
The best way to prevent gum disease is through your own habits! Gum disease is easily preventable through careful brushing, flossing and mouth rinses, and regular cleaning at the dentist. Habits such as smoking add to the risk of gum disease. Receding gums happen when gum disease has escalated from gingivitis to periodontitis and there is loss of bone. There are experimental drugs, like teriparitide, under development that may help with bone repair but don?t expect them in the near future. We should also avoid brushing too hard to avoid gum recession.
What?s the latest word on the safety of amalgam-type fillings?
There is absolutely nothing to worry about. The media hype about the dangers of mercury released from amalgam restorations is grossly exaggerated and a number of healthcare associations (ADA, WHO, BDA, FDI, FDA) have all declared amalgams safe. Research has shown that mercury levels released are low but concerned pregnant women or nursing mothers are advised to discuss this with their dentist.
What role are lasers playing in the field of dentistry?
Lasers are becoming increasingly popular amongst dentists but are yet to prove themselves as an essential tool in mainstream dentistry. Lasers can be used in a variety of both soft- and hard-tissue procedures in a safe way for tooth whitening.
Do over-the-counter whitening procedures work?
The most effective tooth whitening is still achieved at the dentist, through a bleaching tray to use at home or in the clinic. Shop-bought whitening strips and gels can show good results, however, depending on the severity of the discolouration. Whitening toothpastes contain small abrasive particles that remove extrinsic staining on your teeth. Although somewhat effective, they will not do anything to change the actual shade of your teeth if they have discoloured over time.
Is it possible for dentists to reshape teeth?
Yes. Direct methods may include enamel re-contouring and use of restorative materials that blend in with your tooth shade in order to shape your teeth. If the situation calls for it, composite or porcelain veneers can be made after trimming of your teeth to create a nice smile. Veneers are commonly used for smile makeover procedures and studies have shown good longevity.
With so many toothpastes on the market today, which is best?
Go with fluoride.
You can contact Stella at [email protected]