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Dentists reveal new methods to prevent, treat cavities.

Dentists Reveal New Methods to Prevent, Treat Cavities

Dental cavities may soon be treated with lasers instead of drills, reported dental researcher Terry Myers at a recent joint world congress of the American Dental Association/Federation Dentaire Internationale in Washington, D.C.

According to Myers, who treated 150 cavity-ridden teeth in 100 patients with a Nd-YAG laser, the procedure is so successful that he expects it to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration for office use within "maybe three to six months."

The Nd-YAG laser vaporizes the soft organic material that makes up cavities, but is too weak to damage healthy enamel. During the procedure the dentist pulses the laser 10 times per second to allow the tooth to remain cool enough to prevent damage to its delicate inner pulp. Further, with each pulse lasting only 30 trillionths of a second, or a hundred-millionth the time necessary to activate a pain nerve, no anesthesia is required.

According to Myers, who works as a dental consultant to American Dental Laser Inc., Birmingham, Mich., the only sensation reported has been a tingling feeling or warmth, in about 10 to 15 per cent of his patients. In a separate report at the joint congress, a team of researchers from Indiana University School of Dentistry, Indianapolis, reported that the large amounts of saliva produced by gum chewing helps to neutralize the tooth-decaying acids in dental plaque. Led by Bruce Schemehorn, the researchers, who fitted patients with removable partial dentures with built-in electrodes to detect pH, found that acidity was best neutralized when gum chewing started within five minutes after a meal and lasted at least 15 minutes.

In studying acids from other foods, the researchers found that starchy snacks like corn chips promote much more acid plaque than peanuts or popcorn.
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Publication:Nutrition Health Review
Date:Mar 22, 1989
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