New technology in dentistry might seem like an unquestionably good thing. But as dentists are using these technologies more and more often to detect and treat problems that may not need to be treated, patients and some dentists are becoming concerned.
An article in today s New York Times presents diverging perspectives on the question of using new technologies to detect incipient carious lesions or microcavities and then fill them as though they were actual cavities so as to prevent more serious problems later on.
These mini-lesions have only reached the initial stage of some structural damage to the tooth s enamel, whereas a cavity involves both the deterioration of the enamel and of the layer below the enamel (the dentin). Often, a microcavity will not lead to any sort of problem. Yet in a 2010 National Institutes of Health survey, 63 percent of dentists said that they would treat this type of microcavity, even if the patient s dental hygiene was otherwise good. At a cost of $88 to $350 per filling, this potentially unnecessary treatment can be costly.
On one side of the debate, Dr. Douglas Young, a dental diagnostician from the University of the Pacific, thinks that it does not make sense to just watch and wait upon detecting these early signs of decay. He says, If you were to go to a physician and he were to diagnose risk factors for heart disease, the physician would take action and treat the early signs of the disease and try to prevent future disease.
In response, ACSH Advisor and dentist Dr. Chic Schissel had the following to say: