Can “No-Drill” Dentistry Save Smiles?

No-drill technique For many patients, the dull buzzing of a dental drill is enough to scare them out of the dentist’s office. We’ve discussed the dangers associated with dental fear in a previous post, but we’d like to stress the importance of regular dental visits again for our patients here in Williams Lake, BC. Going to visit your dentist twice a year will help keep your smile in tip-top condition because it allows your dental professional to catch any oral health concerns early on.

Many patients dealing with dental anxiety may avoid going to the dentist altogether due to their fear of the dental drill. Although this tool is often associated with poor experiences at the dentist’s office, it is crucial part of the traditional “drill and fill” technique used to treat tooth decay. This technique has been the go-to method to treat cavities for decades. While this trusted technique is effective at stopping the progression of decay, recent studies show that a no-drill approach can be just as effective. So, what does this no-drill technique entail? Dr. Rudy Wassenaar shares more about this new approach for his patients here at Williams Lake Smiles.

A Look at the Past: Drill and Fill Technique

Before we take a look at the no-drill approach to dentistry, let’s briefly go over the old drill-and-fill technique. This method was widely used because most dental professionals believed that tooth decay was a rapid process. Dentists would spot signs of decay and believed that the issue needed to be treated immediately by drilling through the area of decay, removing the decay, and then filling the area. In instances of fully formed cavities or holes in the teeth, fillings are absolutely necessary. However, a recent study suggests that most dental professionals are too quick to resort to the old drill-and-fill technique at early signs of tooth decay.

It’s no surprise that we often revert to the reliable method of drilling and filling tooth decay. This method has been around since the very early days of dentistry. In fact, researchers have even found a filling made out of beeswax that dates back approximately 6500 years. The oldest evidence of a dental filling dates back further and is around 7,5000 to 9,5000 years old. Modern fillings as we know them began in the 19th century when metals including gold, tin, and silver were softened and placed in the area of decay. Today, dental fillings can be made with a number of materials to best suit the patient’s needs.

Benefits of a No-Drill Approach

A study published in Community Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology looked at the need for fillings and alternative tools to deal with early signs of tooth decay. Researchers looked at tooth decay over the course of seven years and found that decay occurs at a much slower rate than first believed. Early decay can take months or even years before the issue actually develops into a full blown cavity. Before a cavity forms, decay can be reversed and patients can be spared the trouble of getting a dental filling.

Throughout the study, researchers found that preventative dentistry can be more effective than the drill-and-fill approach. The study found that the need for fillings was reduced by 30-50% with the help of preventative measures. The team of researchers developed a set of preventative protocols to treat early signs of decay before it develops into a cavity. The four aspects of the no-drill approach include:

  • Additional attention to toothbrushing skills
  • Restricting in-between snacking and beverages with sugar
  • Use of high-concentration fluoride varnish on areas of early decay
  • Monitoring of specific risks and areas

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The use of preventative measures can help you avoid the need for fillings later down the line. However, it’s also important to note that you will need to get a filling if your tooth decay has developed into a full blown cavity. With the formation of a hole in your tooth, bacteria can continue to eat away at your tooth and worsen your oral health without proper care. In the event of any oral health concerns, it’s crucial to contact a dental professional as soon as possible. Here at Williams Lake Smiles, we offer a range of dental services to best address your oral health and individual concerns. To learn more about our services, contact our office today and schedule your appointment with Dr. Wassenaar.

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Covid-19 (Corona) Virus



Our team at Williams Lake Smiles is excited to have the opportunity to welcome you back soon! Dr. Wassenaar, Dr. Dahia and the whole Williams Lake Smiles team appreciate your continued support and understanding as we continue to move through this difficult time

We are gradually reopening in the safest way to ensure that we take all precautions to keep both our patients and our staff healthy.

At this time, we are focusing on addressing emergency needs for our patients. Full dental services, including hygiene care, will be introduced gradually with priority booking to the patients that were delayed treatment during our time of closure. We will be contacting our patients to reschedule these procedures in the coming weeks.

Our office has always utilized personal protective equipment (PPE) that has exceeded all the recommended guidelines. We consciously designed our office with well-spaced, separate treatment rooms that allow minimization of aerosol transfer throughout the office. We have also added a brand new HEPA air management system to allow continuous air filtration in all treatment rooms and common areas to remove germs from circulating air. This puts us in a good position moving forward. However, in consideration of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic we have instituted additional guidelines and protocols to ensure your safety and that of our team.

Upon returning to Williams Lake Smiles you will notice our new enhanced precautions:

-When you are scheduling an appointment, our staff will ask you a set of health-related questions.

-You will be contacted 48-72 hours prior to your appointment via email and asked a set of pre-appointment instructions and health-related questions. It is required that you complete this questionnaire prior to your appointment. We will have to reschedule your appointment if we are unable to complete this step. Please also give our administrative staff all the necessary personal contact information to expedite our communications with you and your family.

-We have implemented new protocol for scheduling your appointments and managing your insurance and financial transactions virtually to allow for a contactless exit from your appointment.

-There will be new arrival procedures to guide you from your car directly to treatment rooms to eliminate contacting surfaces and other patients.

-You will be asked the above screening questions again on your arrival to your appointment.

-Your temperature will be taken on arrival. Again, we will have to reschedule your appointment if your temperature is elevated.

-You will be asked to put on the provided shoe covers and disinfect your hands upon arrival.

-All non-essential companions will be asked to remain outside of the clinic during the appointment. This includes friends, spouses, drivers, parents, and other children.

-We will maintain social distancing in the reception area for essential caregivers and parents of minors if they absolutely cannot wait in a vehicle or outside the clinic.

-We have removed magazines and other items that can harbor or transfer germs of any kind

-Glass barriers have been added in our reception area

-We have enhanced clinic disinfection procedures before and after all appointments.

-You will see new personal protection equipment like visors, gowns, and different masks for our doctors and team to provide barriers against the smallest of germs.

-We have protocols to reduce or eliminate airborne aerosols during all dental procedures.

-We have enhanced continuous disinfection procedures of equipment and office fixtures like computers, keyboards, telephones, tablets, chairs, doorknobs, and buttons that may be touched unconsciously.

-We will be disinfecting all outside mail and packages that enter the building.

-We will have longer appointment times for you to prepare and complete all appointment tasks and duties in the safest and most comprehensive manner.

-Appointments will be managed to allow for social distancing between patients. That might mean fewer options will be available for scheduling your appointment.

We ask that, as we have so many patients to see, you treat your reserved dental appointment with the highest level of respect. Answer the screening questions honestly. Please arrive on time for your appointment. We may not be able to see you if you are late. If you miss your appointment it may be quite some time before we can get you back in.

We are committed to maintaining our high standard of dental health and safety under these new circumstances and appreciate your confidence in us.

We look forward to seeing you again and are happy to answer any questions you may have about the steps we are taking to keep you, and every patient, safe in our practice.

We are all excited to get back to work. Thank you for being our patients. We value your trust and loyalty and look forward to welcoming back our patients, neighbours, and friends.


Dr. Rudy Wassenaar

Dr. Sophia Dahia

And the entire Williams Lake Smiles Team

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