DENTAL TRUTHS AND MYTHS: CAN YOU REALLY HEAL CAVITIES? AND MORE!

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I have seen some misleading articles and blogs and even photos, claiming to heal cavities. The claims don’t hold up to scrutiny. The criteria for being “healed” often include “It doesn’t hurt anymore.” (see the above Myth #1 about pain). Or, it’s claimed that “I can see that the cavity has disappeared.” I looked carefully at one blog about this that included before and after photos. I’ve been a dentist for over forty years, so I’m pretty sure I understand what I’m looking at. The photos showed surface stain (not decay)! The stain visibly reduced or disappeared in the “after” photos. The person thought it was a cavity that disappeared and wrote to tell everybody about it.

If I could see one good example of a real cavity that was documented by a dentist, and evidence from a dental exam and/or X-rays that this cavity “healed” or disappeared, I’d be jumping at the chance to find out what was done and how to advise my patients to duplicate this. Please, if anybody has such evidence, let me know!

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MYTH #3: “AN ABSCESSED TOOTH CAN BE HEALED”

Can an infected tooth, where the “nerve” or pulp of the tooth is infected or necrotic (dead) be revived? Alas, the answer is again: No. Why do some people think that it can? Usually it comes down to Myth #1 – lack of pain. A patient uses an antibiotic, or maybe a homeopathic remedy, and the pain fades and disappears. Or, the swelling fades away. The symptoms have stopped, but that doesn’t mean the tooth has healed. There is still a chronic, asymptomatic infection going on, and it is still dangerous.

Because of the internal anatomy of a tooth, the live pulp tissue doesn’t have the same healing capacity of tissues elsewhere in the body. The pulp tissue may be affected by deep decay and bacterial invasion. It gets inflamed. If caught early enough and treated, this inflammation may be reversible. But there comes a “point of no return” where an inflamed pulp progresses to “irreversible pulpitis” or actual infection or tissue death. At this point, it is not reversible. It cannot regenerate. It is a dead tooth and must be treated.

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