Journal of Conservative Dentistry
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Year : 2008  |  Volume : 11  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 3-10

A new paradigm for operative dentistry

Visiting Research Fellow, Faculty of Dentistry, The University of Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

Correspondence Address:
Graham J Mount
13 MacKinnon Parade, North Adelaide, South Australia-5006.
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0972-0707.43411

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It is over 100 years since G V black gathered together most of the knowledge then current on the caries process and set clear parameters for the discipline of operative dentistry. His four-volume treatise set standards that were relevant for the times and, in fact, were so well described that they remained dominant in this discipline until quite recently. However, over the last 50 years there has been great progress in scientific method and in knowledge of the common diseases of the oral environment, including the caries process, so maybe it is time for change. The term "paradigm" describes a philosophy of science, a generally accepted model of how ideas relate to one another, forming a conceptual framework within which scientific research is carried out. Black defined the paradigm within which further research was to be conducted during the following years and the profession accepted his lead. However, it is not expected that the parameters of a profession should remain unchanged over a substantial period so it is suggested that the dental profession should, at this time, recognize a new paradigm. Improvements in scientific method have led to a better understanding of the oral environment, resulting in extensive changes for this profession. It is suggested that the standards set by Black should be now consigned to history and an entirely new paradigm adopted. First, the profession must recognize that dental caries is a bacterial disease and its primary efforts should be directed towards identification and elimination of the disease prior to initiating repair of the damage that it has caused. Preservation of natural tooth structure is then the next responsibility. There should be maximum use made of preventive strategies, including remineralization, followed by minimal intervention cavity designs and the use of bioactive restorative materials to restore the lesions. The profession should be prepared to move on.

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