Following a look at the history of dental restorations, why not delve a bit into some of the more modern and recent developments?
Growing new teeth from old ones: Teeth contain stem cells, called Dental Pulp Stem Cells and there is vast potential for these cells to be used to grow new teeth. Stem cells gathered from a patient’s naturally lost baby teeth or extracted wisdom teeth can be harvested and saved for the future. Scientists have already used stems cells to successfully regrow a tooth in the mouth of a mouse.
Air Abrasion: An alternative to the traditional rotating drill, the air drill aims tiny abrasive particles in a concentrated stream to chip away at the decayed part of the tooth without the shrill sound of the conventional drill. It’s like a tiny sand blaster!
Caries-Dissolving Gel: A substance called Carisolv, developed in Sweden, is a gel designed to soften the decayed part of the tooth enough to be gently scraped away from the surrounding healthy dentin. It’s a promising technique with potential, but at this time the well-proven ADA-approved methods are holding strong.
Lasers: Specially designed lasers can be used to zap away tooth decay. These are in fact already in existence, but not affordable enough to be as popular as the tradition drill, which is equally effective and far more affordable and accessible, not to mention ADA approved! Lasers also cannot be used in place of a drill for many procedures, such as preparing teeth for a bridge, around old fillings, or between teeth.
CAD/CAM technology -An alternative to impressions: Computer Aided Design and Computer Aided Manufacturing, or CAD/CAM makes a digital 3D model of the tooth and facilitates the fabrication of a crown, filling, or other restoration without the need for gunky plaster in the mouth. These have existed for years, but high cost has kept them from being accessible chair-side and relegated them the future of general dentistry!