New study suggests fillings may not be the best option to treat childhood decay

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A new study claims that fillings may not be the best option to treat children with tooth decay.

A three-year research project, known as the FiCTION Study, found no evidence to suggest that fillings were any more effective than alternative treatment options. Examples included sealing decay into the teeth and using preventative, rather than curative measures. Researchers also found that 450 children who participated in the study developed additional symptoms, such as abscesses, and experienced dental pain, regardless of the treatment selected. 

Chairwoman of paediatric dentistry at the University of Dundee and lead author of the study, Professor Nicola Innes, explained that the project shows that results are similar, no matter the approach taken. Analysis suggests that children are likely to experience pain and develop abscesses regardless of the type of treatment provided by their dentist. The best way to tackle decay is to prevent it, rather than drilling and filling the tooth or sealing decay into the tooth. 

During the trial period, researchers analysed data from more than 1,140 children aged between 3 and 7 years old. All the children had visible tooth decay signs and were treated by dentists working in 72 clinics across the country. Dentists adopted one of three approaches, which included placing a filling, drilling into the tooth to remove decayed tissue and sealing decay into the tooth using a filling or crown. The results showed that no single approach was more effective than another.

The findings of the study have been published in the Journal of Dental Research.

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