Tooth decay is preventable. Through proper dental care, cavities and gingivitis can be minimized, if not prevented. The reality is that such dental health issues are still a problem worldwide.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) website states:
- Worldwide, 60-90% of school children and nearly 100% of adults have dental cavities.
- Globally, about 30% of people aged 65-74 have no natural teeth.
- Oral disease in children and adults is higher among poor and disadvantaged population groups.
To treat cavities, the dentist's option is to repair (recoverable) tooth with dental fillings. Once filled, the damaged tooth is restored to its shape and function. However, dental fillings come with its share of problems.
A study in 2015 - conducted by researchers from the Nordic Institute of Dental Materials in Oslo, Norway - and published in the Journal of Dentistry found that filling methods applied by dentists can affect neighbouring teeth. After examining over 700 tooth surfaces, the researched found that after a few years, 34 percent of adjacent tooth surfaces have shown signs of decay.
Researchers concluded that together with the patient's lack of knowledge on post-filling tooth care, the dentist's method of application compromises teeth.
The type of filling is also to blame, with silver amalgam fillings as the main culprit. First, dentists would have to carve the tooth to place the fillings and second, silver fillings expand and contract to heat and cold, causing cracks and tiny fractures on the treated (and nearby) teeth.
To avoid these and other health complications caused by mercury from silver fillings composites are recommended.
Fillings - as stressed by the researchers - is not the perfect treatment. The material used and the dentist's skill has to be taken into consideration. However, as we wait for future dental developments and treatments, it is still the most effective route to repairing the cavity-damaged tooth. Patients should also be taught that treatment does not end as soon as they step out of the dental office. People should also know the basics of proper dental care: brushing, flossing, regular dental visits, and a balanced diet - all help keep a set of healthy teeth.