What if you didn’t need to get fillings for your cavities? Instead of drilling into your irreplaceable tooth enamel, you could identify cavities when they first started to develop and take preventive measures to not just stop the cavities from developing, but reverse their progression so the body’s natural mechanisms could repair the cavity.

That’s the theory behind CAMBRA (CAries Management By Risk Assessment), a relatively new approach to preventive dentistry that this year has celebrated its 21st year. This technique has been proven to make dental care better for both patients and dentists, leading to long-term improvements in oral health and quality of life.

Young woman sitting in dental care preparing for treatment. She is interested in CAMBRA for cavity treatment.

The Theory behind CAMBRA

CAMBRA starts with a very simple theory: there are some factors that contribute to the development of cavities (often called caries by dentists), while other factors are protective, preventing the development of cavities. If the two types of factors are in balance, cavities don’t develop. If the balance tips one way, cavities develop and get worse. If it tips the other way, cavities can be repaired. We need to note that the body has only very limited mechanisms for repairing cavities. Technically, once they become cavities–holes in the teeth–the body can’t fix them. But in their early stages, where the tooth has lost minerals but doesn’t have holes, the body can restore lost minerals to repair a tooth. If remineralization happens faster than demineralization, cavities never develop.

To achieve proper cavity prevention, every patient should be assessed for their cavity risk. If people have moderate or high risk, that person and their dentist work together to decrease risk factors and bump up protective factors.

Risk and Protection Factors

CAMBRA recognizes two different types of risk factors: disease indicators and biological or environmental factors.

Disease indicators–like cavities, demineralized areas, and recent fillings–are important because the people most at risk for new cavities are people who already developed cavities.

Biological and environmental risk factors are numerous. They include the amount of oral bacteria and plaque in your mouth, the amount of saliva flow, and the shape of your teeth, such as the presence of deep pits and fissures. But it also includes certain lifestyle factors that can be altered, such as frequent snacking and recreational drug use.

To balance risk factors, there are numerous protective factors, some of which are controllable, some of which are not. The protective factors include fluoride exposure through water, toothpaste, and tooth varnish. Other protective factors include the use of special mouth washes. And, of course, we can’t forget the benefit of normal salivary flow. CAMBRA protocols call for going beyond basic cleanings increasing the number of protective factors in response to the presence of risk factors.

Effective in Practice

One recent study showed that using CAMBRA can significantly reduce the amount of cavities experienced by patients. The study showed that when high-risk patients were addressed with CAMBRA, 75% ceased to be high-risk patients within two years. Not only that, but a newly published study showed that patients treated with CAMBRA protocols had a 40% lower chance of developing cavities than those who received only placebo treatment.

Protect Your Teeth in Rochester, MI

It’s true that at Doolin-Haddad Advanced Dentistry, we love the outstanding results we can achieve using restorative dentistry for our Rochester, MI patients. However, it’s even better to protect your natural tooth enamel–nothing is more functional or more beautiful than healthy tooth enamel.

If you are looking for a dentist who employs both preventive and restorative dentistry, please call (248) 656-2020 today for an appointment at Doolin-Haddad Advanced Dentistry.