Dentists are there to help us achieve better overall oral health. Dr. James A. Wells of South Charlotte Dentistry always has his patients best interests at heart and wants to make sure they get the best kind of care they deserve. Patients should be able to trust their dentist to do that for them, and to put their needs first. But some dentists these days are starting to let these standards slip by the wayside.

Reports are finding that with the increase of more and more advanced medical technology patients are being diagnosed with cavities when they may not actually have them. The sensitive technology can often detect small tooth abnormalities, which often do not even grow into cavities. But instead of making sure the abnormality really is a hazard to the patients’ health, many dentists are using the diagnosis as justification for drilling and filling.

Many dentists claim that they are just being overly cautious. But the abnormalities they are treating do not necessarily need to be treated, and because of that patients are undergoing painful and expensive procedures that may or may not be able to be avoided. Though getting cavities early can be a good idea, it is always best to make sure that a procedure is necessary before it is performed if it can save time, resources, and the patient’s comfort!

The specific problem that many dentists are starting to drill for is called an incipient carious lesion. This is the first step to a cavity, but it often does not become a full blown cavity. It presents as a slight structural damage to the enamel, but does not always start to decay the dentin underneath the enamel. The problem with drilling for these lesions is that often times the lesion repairs itself due to the mineral in our saliva that is designed to repair eroded enamel.

The earliest stages of the cavity are not necessarily problematic, and should be watched carefully to see if they do turn into a cavity. But many dentists are declining to wait and are going ahead with the drill. In a recent study, sixty three percent of dentists surveyed said that they would drill and fill on one of these lesions, no matter what the patient’s oral hygiene history looked like!

Many dentists are pulling for a standard of diagnosis for cavities, in order to prevent widespread misdiagnosis like this. They hope that they can make it so that there is a system that all dentists use to identify when a cavity is at the point where it is necessary to drill. This will save lots of time and comfort for the patients, as well as their well earned money.

But some dentists disagree about the problems with drilling early. They agree that there are risk factors involved and that there is a chance that the lesions may heal on their own, but they believe that it is not worth the risk. If a lesion does develop into a cavity that doesn’t get looked at early enough, then it could be even more costly than an unnecessary drill. If the cavity isn’t caught early enough there could be need for a root canal, which might have prevented.

Still, patients should be able to trust their health care providers. The best thing to do when dentists like Dr. Wells find a lesion like this is to make sure the patient is well informed on the issue. That way they can decide together with Dr. Wells which path is right for them. If you are interested in getting a second opinion about your oral health please visit our contact us page or call 704-759-0908.

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