Have you and your family had cavities lately? If yes, you may want to read this article, published by both the NYTimes and Msnbc. You may be surprised:
"With increasingly sophisticated detection technology, dentists are finding — and treating — tooth abnormalities that may or may not develop into cavities. While some describe their efforts as a proactive strategy to protect patients from harm, critics say the procedures are unnecessary and painful, and are driving up the costs of care.
“A better approach is watchful waiting,” said Dr. James Bader, a research professor at the University of North Carolina School of Dentistry. “Examine it again in six months.”
Every time a dentist drills into a tooth, he added, “you’re condemning that person to a refilling” years down the road.
An incipient carious lesion is the initial stage of structural damage to the enamel, usually caused by a bacterial infection that produces tooth-dissolving acid.
The lesion doesn’t always lead to a full-blown cavity, which entails decay of the layer right beneath the enamel, called dentin. Mineral-containing saliva can repair these lesions, especially when bolstered with fluoride.
Many experts think it doesn’t make sense to operate in the early stages of decay. “If you don’t have any kind of demonstrable collapse of the enamel wall, then you shouldn’t put in a filling,” Dr. Bader said."
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