Dr Lyndie Foster Page (left) and Dorothy Boyd, of the Dunedin Dental School, have carried out research on a new needle-free and drill-free dental technique for treating tooth decay in children. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
A new method of treating tooth decay, which does not involve
the use of needles or drills, reduces children's anxiety
about going to the dentist, University of Otago research has
Otago University head of preventive and restorative dentistry
Dr Lyndie Foster Page and colleague Dorothy Boyd carried out
the research. Nearly 190 Hawkes Bay children aged between 5
and 8 took part. Of those, nearly 100 children were treated
for tooth decay using the new technique, while the remainder
were treated using conventional methods. The study was funded
by the Health Research Council of New Zealand (HRC).
The new method, called the Hall technique, involved placing a
stainless steel crown over a baby molar tooth to seal in
decay, as opposed to removing decay with a drill and then
placing a filling. Starved of nutrients, the decay then
stopped or slowed down and the crown stayed in place until it
fell out naturally with the tooth when the child was about
Dr Foster Page said those treated in the new way reported
less ''dental anxiety'' than those who had received
conventional care. Overall, 90% of those treated with the
Hall technique reported enjoying their clinic visit, compared
with 52% of those conventionally treated.
Using the technique could bring long-term benefits in dental
health, she said.
''If children don't fear going to the dentist, we believe
they'll be more inclined to go regularly for check-ups when
they are adolescents and adults.
''But there is more work to do to understand exactly why the
children said they preferred the new technique,''As well as
reducing the fear factor, the new technique was up to 20
minutes quicker and had a higher success rate.
The crowns cost more than conventional amalgam or white
fillings, but could work out more economical in the long
term, due to the higher success rate, she said.
Dr Foster Page said further research was needed before a
decision was made on whether to introduce the technique
nationally and the pair had applied to the HRC for funding to
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