Coming Soon: Cavity Fills Without Drills

Finally, relief for those who dread the dentist
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 2, 2010 11:00 AM CDT
A file photo of a visit to the dentist.   (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

(Newser) – If the thought of the dentist’s drill has you squirming in your chair, some good news: Soon, the dreaded instrument may no longer be needed to fill certain cavities. Dentists are experimenting with a new treatment called Icon, which can stop the progress of cavities that are not too advanced. Icon involves cleaning out decayed enamel with mild acid, then filling the open pores with clear resin.

Until now, intermediate decay (too major to be treated at home with better brushing, too minor to be filled) forced dentists to wait for lesions to grow bigger before filling. It’s those types of problems the new procedures aim to treat, dentists tell NPR. Some worry the drill-less treatments will be used for problems that could be stopped or reversed with simpler measures, but others view this as a step in the right direction for patients who can’t or won’t change their home dental habits. (Click here to see how bad US tooth decay has gotten.)

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