Back in April I wrote about my decision to take a “watch and wait” approach with two small cavities that my dentist recommended getting filled. My plan was to follow a home treatment plan including dental hygiene, nutrition, and supplements. This is a follow-up post to fill you in on the results.
I did a decent but imperfect job in terms of complying with my own home treatment plan. I intended to do a fluoride rinse three times a week, but I slacked off over time, probably averaging only once a week. In most other areas I did well, including taking supplements on a regular basis (vitamin D, vitamin K2, magnesium), and eating foods rich in calcium and vitamin A. I modified my diet to include more vegetables and somewhat less protein (I still eat meat, but my diet would probably be better described as “low-grain Mediterranean” rather than “paleo”). I continued to not drink soda, which as far as I can tell is the most destructive and dangerous habit in terms of dental health (I could link to pictures of “soda teeth” but I will spare you the gore). I continued to brush at least twice a day and floss at least once a day. I chewed xylitol gum on most days.
On my most recent visit to the dentist, my dentist observed that one area where the enamel had been soft had hardened up, and she no longer recommended drilling and filling that tooth. The other small cavity, though apparently not worse, had not improved. Otherwise, my teeth and gums were in great shape.
At this point I will take her recommendation and get the one cavity filled.
I’ll continue with my home treatment plan, as it seems to be doing some good in terms of dental health. I’m glad I took the watch and wait approach, as it seems to have saved me some money, done no harm, and saved a tooth from being drilled.
If your dentist says you have a cavity, ask for details. How big is it? Is there any chance that the enamel could harden up over time with good dental hygiene, home fluoride rinse treatment, and excellent nutrition? Within private healthcare systems, it’s not in your dentist’s financial interest to recommend delaying treatment, so they may not present this as an option. Dentists may also be reluctant to recommend delaying treatment of observable cavities because of their training, and/or the expectations of their patients.
Remember that the final decision is yours (as well as the ultimate responsibility for your dental health).