Being candy lovers ourselves, we know how tedious it is to get a cavity. If it’s in its early stages, we oftentimes have to wait anywhere from five months to a few years to get it filled, but, according to San Francisco cosmetic dentist Swati Agarwal, DDS, a treatment called ICON Resin Infiltration helps stop cavities in their beginning stages, so we can say goodbye to year-long wait times and fillings once and for all.
“This treatment opens up the pores of the teeth in order to access cavities and stop them from progressing,” she says, explaining that the treatment also eliminates white spot lesions on the teeth caused by both bacterial and cavity growth. Ahead, Dr. Agarwal breaks down everything we need to know about the innovative treatment, from downtime to how it works.
What is ICON Resin Infiltration?
ICON Resin Infiltration is made of a liquidated form of resin, which is an organic compound that is used for filling the teeth. The fact that the resin in the treatment is very liquid—almost like the consistency of water—allows us to get deep into the pores of the teeth. By opening up these pores, we gain access to white spots on the teeth, which signify the decalcification of our enamel and can occur after people get their braces taken off or when a cavity is in its early stages. The great thing about this treatment is that it’s micro-invasive, meaning it doesn’t require any drilling or cutting of the teeth so it doesn’t hurt at all.
How does it treat both white spots and cavities?
Teeth have multiple layers and the outermost layer is enamel, the hardest part of our tooth. Enamel is very strong and resistant, but it’s not durable enough to withstand cavities and bacteria. When people get braces and they don’t keep up with their hygiene, bacteria will collect around the braces and start breaking down that enamel. If that bacteria has not yet caused decay by the time the braces come off, it will have caused white spots. These spots also signify the preliminary stages of a cavity. When we use ICON Resin Infiltration on these spots, it doesn’t physically remove the white spot. What the resin does is refract the light in such a way that it mimics the color of your natural tooth so the human eye can’t see them while also filling the cavity and preventing further growth.
Why was the treatment created?
We, as dentists, focus on preventing cavities from happening—that’s our number-one goal. But, when a cavity does form, we have to treat it with a filling or whatever treatment is right for the patient. Before ICON Resin Infiltration was created, we would see a small cavity and wait for it to get bigger before we treated it. Essentially, we would watch a cavity grow when we should have been doing everything we can to stop it from growing. That’s where this treatment comes in: it prevents the cavity from growing without having to do fillings—it’s the perfect medium.
How long does the treatment last?
Scientists first started researching this technology back in 2000, so it’s been around for 21 years. Within this time frame, there hasn’t been a single case that has relapsed. We think the reasoning behind this is because the resin gets pulled into the pores of the teeth and it gets sealed in there. There’s really no reason why the resin would ever come out. Since I’ve used it in the past eight years, not one patient has had recurring white spots. The only reason why this treatment would ever fail is if a new cavity forms in that area. Then, we would have to redo it.
Does this treatment work on anyone with white spot lesions?
If the patient has a cavity in its later stages, they would have to get conventional fillings. This treatment wasn’t developed to fill a large cavity, it was developed to reduce the look of white spots that are often associated with cavities. If a cavity is too small to fill, it will prevent it from growing more.
Is there any downtime associated with this treatment?
None at all. There is no anesthesia, no needles, no shots, and no drilling required. Therefore, there is no pain. The procedure is close to two hours because the steps are slow, but you’re literally just lying in the chair and you don’t have to do anything. After we’re done, we polish the teeth and you’re all ready to go! You can eat and drink like normal and you don’t have to worry about staining. Go ahead and drink red wine or eat colored foods because the pores of the teeth will be completely shut.
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