Repairing cavities can be time consuming and downright painful, but dentists at the University of Alabama are trialing a new way of filling a tooth without the need for drilling into it or even filling it.

This new system was designed to treat cavities in between teeth. A tricky place for dentists to repair, in the past it has involved a painful shot of anesthetic, drilling in between the teeth and then filling the tooth. Dentists state that drilling into this delicate area can sometimes cause problems, so being able to repair these tiny cavities without disturbing the existing structure of the teeth is indeed a breakthrough.

The cavities are repaired in this new procedure using what is known as resin infiltration. The dentist takes a tiny plastic sheet and slides it in between the teeth that need to be repaired. They then use a dental light to cure the resin so that it binds to the cavity. This allows a quick, painless way for the restoration of these delicate areas.

The procedure is FDA approved and the product is available for commercial use, purchased from where it is made in Germany. But at the moment, dentists are only using it in a clinical trial stage at the University of Alabama within the United States.

And while the painless procedure is certainly popular among those who visit the dental office there, Augusto Robles, DDS, assistant professor and director of Operative Dentistry Curriculum at the University of Alabama says patients must meet a very specific criteria in order to have this new technique performed. 

At the moment, the cavities must be between the teeth and in a relatively smooth surface to allow the resin to cure to it. Otherwise, patients have to defer to the old-fashioned drill and fill procedure.

Nonetheless, Robles and his colleagues remain optimistic about the new technology. They hope that it will one day be commercially available across the United States and around the world, making repairing small cavities a cinch. And perhaps one day, this new technology will even work on larger cavities, making that dentist drill a thing of the past.

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