You may not have heard the term “minimally invasive dentistry,” but at Stadium Dental Center, we practice it every day. Read below and find out about what minimally invasive dentistry is and how we can use its methods to help preserve your smile.
What is minimally invasive dentistry?
The goal of minimally invasive dentistry, is to conserve healthy tooth structure through preventive dentistry. It focuses on prevention, remineralization (re-hardening), and minimal dentist intervention (drilling!). Using the state of the art techniques, we perform the most conservative amount of work required, never removing more of the tooth structure than necessary to restore teeth to a healthy condition. Minimally invasive dentistry also employs long-lasting materials that conserve as much tooth structure as possible, reducing the potential need for future repairs. For you, minimally invasive dentistry often means less drilling and less pain, and better disease prevention.
How does it work?
First, we’ll evaluate your risk for tooth decay, which is affected by the presence of bacteria in your mouth, the quality and quantity of your saliva, and your diet. If you show signs of decay, we may use special indicator dyes to map the diseased areas of your teeth, allowing us to remove and replace only those areas. In addition to performing minimally invasive techniques, we may recommend strategies to prevent or reduce your tooth decay risk; for example, if you have a high level of oral bacteria, we may advise you to rinse with a special prescription mouthwash, limit your intake of certain carbohydrates, and practice good oral hygiene.
What techniques are involved?
Minimally invasive dentistry techniques include:
• Remineralization: This technique can repair the damage caused by demineralization, a process in which acid exposure weakens the teeth. The use of fluoride and calcium phosphate compounds play an important role in helping to remineralize (re-harden) teeth.
• Sealants: These are used to protect teeth from the bacteria that cause decay. A type of flowable polymer resin, sealants fit into the grooves and depressions of the tooth, protecting it against bacteria and plaque. Sealants do not require any cutting of the tooth and are easily placed.
• Inlays and onlays: These can be used to restore a tooth without removing as much tooth structure as needed for a crown. Typically gold or tooth-colored, inlays are similar to fillings, but they are custom-made to fit your cavity. For more substantial restorations, onlays can be used instead, incorporating a replacement for the pointed tooth cusp and preserving more of your tooth structure.
• Bite guards: These oral appliances can help protect teeth from bruxism, or grinding, which often causes serious damage to the teeth if left unchecked. If you grind your teeth, we can create a bite guard for you to wear at night or during times of stress, when most grinding occurs.
• Air abrasion: This involves a stream of air combined with a super-fine, abrasive powder, which is used to remove decay if a tooth cannot be remineralized. We frequently use this technique instead of a traditional drill as this process may not require anesthesia.
These preventive dentistry techniques, along with proper oral health habits, can help keep your teeth healthy and prevent future dental problems. Ask us if these minimally invasive techniques might be right for you.