Dodging the Drill

Dentists could soon have an additional tool to help ward off tooth decay.

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Researchers from the Case Western Reserve University School of Dental Medicine are testing a resin polymer designed to infiltrate tooth enamel to seal and stop the spread of tooth decay.

Dental researchers Jin-Ho Phark and Sillas Duarte will clinically test the resin—produced by German dental products company DMG (Deutsche Material Gesellschaft)—on 40 adolescents who have recently had fixed braces removed.

Researchers will see if the product can reverse white spots—the beginning lesions associated with dental decay. They will also examine how well the resin holds up over the study's two-year duration.

If noninvasive methods like brushing, flossing and fluoride treatments aren't enough to fend off decay, dentists must turn to invasive procedures like drilling. However, even drilling and filling fail to provide a permanent solution—drilling weakens the teeth, and over time, fillings need to be replaced, which requires more enamel removal and furthers weakens teeth.

"The idea is to develop a product that at a minimum delays decay or prevents it," says Phark. "We also want to find a product that is an intermediary treatment between noninvasive and invasive treatments."

The researchers discuss the product in the article "Caries Infiltration with Resins: A Novel Treatment Option for Interproximal Caries," in the journal Compendium of Continuing Education in Dentistry.