The Courier & Advertiser (Perth and Perthshire Edition)
Dentist fights tooth and nail to make treatment less painful
Dreading a trip to the dentist could soon be a thing of the past for young patients
Trips to the dentist should be a far less painful experience thanks to some ground-breaking work by a Dundee dental professor.
Nicola Innes originally trained as a nurse in Edinburgh but a change of career saw her qualify as a dentist.
Today she is a professor of paediatric dentistry at Dundee University’s School of Dentistry and is at the helm of revolutionising children’s dental and oral health.
Nicola and her team have introduced a ground-breaking procedure, developed at Dundee, called the Hall Technique, after Norna Hall, the first dentist to use it.
It involves pushing a small, shiny cap over a child’s decayed milk tooth instead of drilling it out.
The cap creates a seal that prevents sugar or oxygen getting to bacteria, starving the decay of nutrients.
“While I was working in practice, I could see it was much harder to provide good quality fillings for children that lasted well,” Nicola says.
“My friends in other practices up and down the UK had found the same thing but it just seemed to be taken for granted.
“This interested the researcher in me, while the nurse in me was keen to find a way of avoiding needles and drills – so Dr Dafydd Evans and I pioneered a child-friendly approach to dentistry.
“This was a really important piece of research in dentistry and the Hall Technique is used in many parts of the world now.”
And she is convinced the condition of children’s teeth in Courier Country has definitely improved thanks to efforts by herself and colleagues.
“Ten years ago, half the children starting school had tooth decay and that’s now down to around a third,” she says. “This seems to be a result of the Childsmile project’s school tooth brushing programmes and strengthening fluoride varnish being painted on children’s teeth in schools and dental surgeries.
“But we still have a huge problem. In Tayside last year alone more than 500 children had to be given a general anaesthetic for dental problems and 170 of these were under five years old.”
For tips on how to look after your child’s teeth, see column on the right. However, the message is to keep brushing.
We pioneered a childfriendly approach to dentistry