PIONEERED IN UNDERSERVED areas and countries with a lack of medical infrastructure, Atraumatic Restorative Treatment (ART) dentistry is widely used where electricity is unavailable or unreliable, and in the field by relief organizations serving the poor and refugees.
The American Dental Association Foundation describes it as “a simple form of restorative care that should be given careful consideration.”
ART is “an alternative treatment” for cavities in which the “demineralized and insensitive outer carious dentin is removed with hand instruments only, requiring no electricity or anesthesia,” reports the Alliance for a Cavity-Free Future.
While the International Dental Federation and the World Health Organization promote the use of ART in modern clinical settings worldwide—the Journal of Dental Education says its use in the United States is less common.
Reported uses for ART in the United States include dental restorations for children who are fearful of dentists; adult patients with extreme fear of dentistry, including adults with mental or physical challenges; patients with preexisting medical conditions who can have their dental problems stabilized with ART; and for patients who lack financial resources. (The Alliance for a Cavity-Free Future reports that ART “costs 50 percent less than amalgam and composite resin restorative procedures in a traditional clinical setting.”)
“ART can [also] be useful in an elderly population who may be in nursing homes or confined to their homes where only hand instruments may be available,” reports the International Journal of Clinical Dental Science.
ART dentistry is not for every patient, but it may be an option worth discussing with your dentist if you need dental care that is less invasive, or you cannot travel to a dental office.