New Drill-Free Technique for Cavities in Children

Dr. Norma Hall, a Scottish dentist, developed a new technique for fixing cavities in young children that doesn’t require a drill, using a local anesthetic, or placing a dental filling. The technique aptly called the Hall technique, involves capping a baby tooth with a stainless-steel crown to seal the decay. The crown then remains on the afflicting tooth until it naturally falls out with the arrival of the permanent tooth. According to recent research, the process is 20 minutes faster than the traditional filling and has a higher success rate.

More importantly, recent research on the technique has found that this drill-free technique can reduce dentist anxiety in young children. Dr. Lyndie Foster Page and Dr. Dorothy Boyd trained ten dentists to use the Hall technique, and then studied its effects on dentist anxiety in about 200 young children versus conventional methods. One hundred of the children had the Hall technique, and approximately 90 children had a traditional filling. The children were aged between 5 and 8.

They found that the children who received the Hall technique reported less dental anxiety than the children who received fillings. Nearly 90% of the children with the Hall technique reported that they enjoyed their dental visit, whereas only 52% of the children who received a filling said the same.

The research team believes that this new technique could stem the development of dental phobias, which generally form in childhood. “If children don’t fear going to the dentist, we believe they’ll be more inclined to go regularly for dental check-ups when they are adolescents and adults, but there is more work to be done to understand why children said they preferred the new technique,” Foster Page said.

Dr. Foster Page also noted that after six months, most children who have a traditional filling usually develop twice as many dental abscesses and need nearly three times as many replacement fillings. Even though the steel crowns in the Hall technique are more expensive than fillings, replacing the fillings multiple times can easily exceed the cost of a steel crown.

The research will be presented at the General Session and Exhibition of the International Association for Dental Research, which will be held later this month in Seattle, Washington. Perhaps this will be a first step in implementing this drill-free practice for children across the US.

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