What’s the evidence on the best approach to supportive periodontal therapy?

Periodontitis (gum disease) is a chronic condition caused by bacteria, which stimulate inflammation and destruction of the bone and gum tissue supporting teeth. People treated for periodontitis can reduce the probability of re-infection and disease progression through regular supportive periodontal therapy (SPT). SPT starts once periodontitis has been treated satisfactorily, meaning that inflammation has been controlled and destruction of tissues supporting the tooth (bone and gums) has been arrested. SPT aims to maintain teeth in function, without pain, excessive mobility or persistent infection over the long term. SPT treatment typically includes ensuring excellent oral hygiene, frequent monitoring for progression or recurrence of disease, and removal of microbial deposits by dental professionals. Although success of SPT has been suggested through a number of long-term, retrospective studies, it is important to consider evidence available from randomised controlled trials (RCTs). Continue reading

Teeth restored using atraumatic restorative treatment may be more likely to fail, but evidence is low quality

Dental caries (tooth decay) has been considered the most common global disease. Conventional methods (drill and fill) involve the use of electric drills to clear away decayed areas of tooth before filling. Local anaesthetic (painkiller) is normally injected to prevent pain during the procedure. Conventional treatments require highly trained dental health personnel, access to electricity, appropriate tools and are more expensive. These factors may limit access especially in underdeveloped regions of service provision. Atraumatic Restorative Treatment (ART) is an alternative approach for managing dental decay, which involves removal of decayed tissue using hand instruments alone, usually without the use of anaesthesia (injected painkiller) and electrical equipment. Continue reading

Uncertain evidence on the value of school dental screening programmes

Boy having teeth examinedOral diseases, especially dental caries, affect children worldwide. If unchecked, oral health can deteriorate progressively and adversely impact children’s general well-being. It also has a financial bearing at family and community levels. School dental screening is a public health measure where oral examination of children is carried out in the school setting, and then parents are informed about the oral condition and treatment needs of their child. The screening aims to identify oral health concerns at an early stage, and prompt parents to seek treatment where required.  Continue reading

Metal-free materials for making crowns and bridges

Teeth in the foreground

Fixed prosthodontic treatment is a routine dental procedure in which one or more missing or severely damaged teeth are replaced by artificial substitutes. The material used to make the prosthesis may be made of a metal framework with a veneering of an aesthetic material (ceramic) or entirely in metal or it can be made with different non-metal structures (metal-free materials). There is still uncertainty regarding metal-free long-term performance compared to metal-based crowns and bridges. Continue reading

Zinc supplements may be effective for taste disorders but more high quality studies are needed

The sense of taste is essential to the health and psychological well-being of an individual. Taste disorders can range from lack of taste, to distortion of taste, to reduced ability to taste. Any disorder in taste perception can lead to conditions like malnutrition and consumption of poisonous food substances. The cause may be due to disease, drugs, radiation treatment, or ageing; or it may result from unknown causes. Various treatment methods have been used to improve taste sensation. These include the use of zinc compounds, pilocarpine, alpha lipoic acid, transcranial magnetic stimulation, ginkgo biloba and acupuncture. Continue reading

How effective are painkillers in reducing the discomfort caused by orthodontic treatment?

Pain is a common side effect of orthodontic treatment. The pain resulting from orthodontic treatment may differ depending on the amount of force applied and the type of braces used. It may also change over the first few days following treatment. Pain has been ranked as the worst aspect of treatment and is the most common reason for people wanting to discontinue orthodontic treatment. Painkillers, swallowed or applied directly to the sore areas of the mouth following treatment, are thought to relieve the pain, making brace treatment more comfortable and acceptable. These painkillers are often cheap, readily available, easy to use and do not cause serious side effects. Continue reading