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No More Cavities with These Affordable Tooth Decay Hacks, Study Shows

Timothy Boyer Ph.D.'s picture
Cost-saving hacks for cavity-free teeth

Going to the dentist is expensive. Too expensive for many. A new study designed to dramatically reduce tooth decay in high risk patients at a lower cost reveals that using these affordable tooth decay hacks at home can yield the same results as more costly prescription products and care.


The condition of your teeth can affect both your physical health and your psychological health. But it's one of those health maintenance chores many of us find ourselves slacking off on until a problem emerges requiring immediate dental care from a dentist or oral surgeon.

While some dental problems such as crowding between teeth or a stray wondering tooth that won't stay put are unavoidable consequences of genetics, much of basic dental care is for treating the ravages of dental caries-tooth decay caused by bacteria on the tooth surface that feeds on those carbs you had for lunch and releases acids as waste. Those acids corrode away the protective tooth enamel and the dentin layer beneath your tooth surface, and if not halted or reversed, eventually leads to a cavity.

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Another root cause of cavities is more financial--it simply costs too much for everyone to see a dentist twice a year as recommended; and so, ways are being sought to remedy this problem by changing how care is provided and preventive maintenance made accessible to help those who are identified as high caries risk patients. One of the ways is through programs such as the Caries Management By Risk Assessment (CAMBRA®)-an evidence-based approach to preventing or treating dental caries at its earliest stages.

A UCSF School of Dentistry clinical study linked to CAMBRA® focused on creating a scientifically based approach to dramatically reduce tooth decay via community dental practices that is both affordable and effective was published this week in the journal Advances in Dental Research, which researchers believe could transform dental care.

According to a UCSF news release:

"We put the 2012 UCSF clinical study into the real world and showed it works," said lead author Peter Rechmann, DMD, PhD, professor of preventive and restorative dental sciences in the UCSF School of Dentistry. "The patients at high caries risk who used prescription products went down significantly over time in their risk level. Those in the control group also reduced their risk to a lesser degree, simply by using over-the-counter products that also protect teeth and affect the bacteria."

In the study, 20 dentists participated in a two-year CAMBRA trial consisting of 460 patients ages 12-65 years old, with 239 in a CAMBRA group and 221 in a control group.

In the CAMBRA group, patients received:

" a prescription fluoride toothpaste
" chlorhexidine antibacterial rinse
" xylitol mints
" fluoride varnish.

In the control group, patients received

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" regular fluoride toothpaste
" an assumed inactive mouth rinse
" sorbitol candies
" a non-fluoride varnish.

Over the two-year period, follow-up visits were conducted in which new caries lesions or changes in caries risk level were recorded.

What the researchers found was that overall, a significantly greater percentage of high-risk participants in the CAMBRA group were re-classified at a lower risk of caries after receiving CAMBRA preventive therapies for two years-only 24% in the group remained categorized as high-risk caries.

However, one interesting finding was that in the control group, dental decay was found to also have lowered. In fact, almost half were also re-classified as having a lower risk of caries.

"It was surprising to see the benefits gained by the control group," Rechmann said. "More research is needed to see if the products and treatment administered to this group function in the way we speculate, and if so, they might be made easily available to dental patients. Doing so can change the whole picture of caries control."

The news release states that the researchers posit that the risk reduction among the control group may have been caused by the regular fluoride toothpaste given which enhanced tooth repair, as well as the "assumed inactive mouth rinse" and "sorbitol candies" that appear to have enhanced saliva flow and having bactericidal effects.

In other words, using regular fluoride containing toothpaste in conjunction with mouth washes and some sugar-free candy to promote increased saliva production may be just the easy and relatively inexpensive hacks you need instead of expensive prescription grade fluoride dental products to protect yourself from cavities.

For more information about how to care for your teeth affordably, here are some additional Dental Hacks to Save Your Money and Your Teeth.


UCSF News release "Cavity Prevention Approach Effectively Reduces Tooth Decay"

Advances in Dental Research, 2018; 29 (1) "Changes in Caries Risk in a Practice-Based Randomized Controlled Trial" P. Rechmann, B.W. Chaffee, B.M.T. Rechmann, J.D.B. Featherstone.

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