The End of Dental Fillings? How Cavities Might Soon Vanish with Varnish

Dentist Blog

Family dentists will do their very best to put the youngest members of your family at ease during an examination or procedure. It's not always so easy, though, and older children who have needed to have a cavity filled at a younger age might still have unpleasant memories. Even adults can be wary of the dentist, particularly when they know that they need a filling. It's important to remember that the process of getting a filling is more of a discomfort than something that is painful, and it is far less problematic than allowing the cavity to develop into something more serious. Having said that, it would be nice if there was an alternative to the need to fill a cavity. The good news is that this could very soon be the case!

Filling Procedure

When a dentist notices a cavity (and they are likely to notice it well before you will), they tend to take decisive action. The tooth has a rotten portion that has consumed a certain amount of your protective dental enamel. The dentist removes this portion (generally with a dental drill) and adds filling material to restore the tooth to its former strength and look. Just how much drilling is required depends entirely on how far the cavity has progressed.

Treatment for Extensive Damage

Your teeth are exceptionally strong, and it can take up to eight years for an area of decay to develop on an adult tooth to the point that it reaches the dentine, or inner part of the tooth. A dentist can still remove the damaged area and fill the cavity after this time, but it's a more complex process requiring deeper drilling. After the decay has been left unchecked for such a long time, a traditional dental filling is really the only solution. But when the cavity is in its earlier stages, it has been discovered that there is a far less invasive method to effectively solve the problem.


An extensive study conducted by the University of Sydney has shown that the traditional method of repairing a cavity (drilling combined with a dental filling material) is not always necessary. Instead of drilling, dentists can simply apply a layer of high-fluoride varnish to the affected area. This varnish was combined with correct brushing habits and a reduction in sugar consumption. This process can cut reduce the need for dental fillings in up to 50% of patients. More research is needed, but there's no reason why this treatment method cannot become widespread in the years to come.

Such a method would rely on regular visits to the dentist, since once a cavity has breached your dental enamel a traditional filling is the only course of action. The varnish method would only be successful if your dentist notices potential cavities before they grow to be too extensive. If regular dental visits combined with varnish treatment becomes a common procedure, the dental filling might soon be a thing of the past.


21 December 2015

Teeth And Tears: Dental Dramas Of A School Nurse

I have worked as a school nurse for decades. Children come to me with all sorts of scrapes and bumps and bruises. Black eyes from playing football, sprained wrists from falling off the monkey bars and stomachaches from too many sweets are common complaints. However, the issue that seems to cause the greatest angst is tooth problems. Sometimes a child will have a second tooth knocked out when playing sport and parents arrive in tears. At other times, children come to my office crying because their friends are teasing them about teeth that are discoloured or stick out. I take an active interest in the latest dental news so that I can give parents and children comfort and advice. I have included some of my collected wisdom on these pages. Perhaps this information can help you understand some options when faced with a dental problem. Thank you for reading.