Tooth decay has been a major issue in dentistry since its inception. One of the goals of dentists is to repair dental caries, or holes in teeth. These cavities are caused by bacteria that produce acidic waste as a byproduct of the process of metabolizing sugars on the teeth. These acids can break down the hard mineral part of teeth. Cavities are usually accompanied by pain and can, in some instances, lead to infection and loss of teeth.
Dental caries are one of the most common issues affecting people’s teeth. Recently, dental research has made some advancement in their study. One recently developed approach to the repair of cavities is known as minimal intervention dentistry. Traditional dentists have dealt with cavities in a variety of ways, but the invasiveness of dental work was assumed as a given in the process of repairing dental caries. The cause of cavities was not fully understood, although dentists have repaired them for centuries. Therefore, tooth reconstruction was largely seen as a necessarily symptom-based procedure.
The difference with minimal intervention dentistry is that the goal is to keep as much of the original tooth as possible while at the same time understanding the underlying causes of tooth decay. Recent research has led some dentists in the direction of rethinking their approach to dentistry. This conceptual shift can be said to be part of a trend in the medical research community of medicalization, or the process by which a medical viewpoint is applied to various problems.
Minimal intervention dentistry medicalizes tooth decay by applying disease pathology and tracing its origins. Viewing cavities as a symptom of an underlying disease means that they treat the disease instead of the symptom. Teeth are still filled and reconstructed as in traditional dentistry, but the idea is to cure the disease and prevent future cavities. These dentists take a minimalist approach when it comes to the actual fillings.
It is important to view the development of a cavity as part of a larger process. The beginning of a cavity is called a lesion. This is an area in which the tooth has been damaged by acids, but the area can still be repaired without a filling. The minimalist approach is to begin a process of remineralization, reversing the process of demineralization. Fluoride treatments, which are widely used by dentists to strengthen teeth, can also be used to start he remineralization process in damaged teeth.
While minimal intervention dentistry is not seen as a controversial subject in mainstream dentistry, it has still not been widely adopted. The research has been published, but its effect on dentistry in practice has not caught on. However, the concepts are relatively new, and only time will tell if it becomes a commonplace.
Minimal intervention dentistry is a new way of viewing dentistry, but these shifts in perspective take some time to develop. To view it as an example of an overall trend of medicalization suggests that it may have the impetus to make its way into regular dental practice.