Minimally invasive dentistry is a concept and a philosophy that refers to the practice of doing as little as necessary to achieve a desired result. Advancements in technology and techniques allow us to restore, repair, and enhance the appearance of teeth often with much less preparation or removal of natural tooth structure than what was necessary in the past. The advantages are obvious. Less preparation or manipulation of natural tooth structure during treatment can mean less trauma to the teeth which can mean less chance of post treatment sensitivity or chance of damage to the sensitive pulp tissues within the tooth. Less invasive procedures can help preserve the strength and integrity of teeth and treatment can often be performed in less time and at less cost. In short, minimally invasive dentistry means accomplishing treatment goals with less time, less trauma, less cost and, utilizing current technology, with enhanced outcomes. Some of the technologies that allow us to practice minimally invasive dentistry include;
- Advance bonding technologies that reduce the need to remove tooth structure in placing dental restorations
- Decay detecting dyes that allow us to be very precise when removing decay from a tooth and avoid having to remove healthy tooth structure in the process.
- Reinforced ceramics which allows for the fabrication of dental restorations that require less bulk for strength. An example of this would be the new ultra thin porcelain veneers which require minimal or no removal of natural tooth structure.
- Laser decay detection systems such as Diagnodent and digital radiography with image enhancement capabilities which allow for earlier detection of dental decay and therefore more conservative restoration.
- Dental implants that allow for the replacement of a missing or lost tooth without having to prepare the adjacent teeth for a conventional fixed bridge.
- Mini implants that can sometimes be used in place of a conventional dental implant and involve less time, surgical manipulation, and less cost.
- CAD/CAM orthodontic systems such as Invisalign which can align teeth without having to bond brackets to all the teeth and allows removal of the appliances for easier cleaning and eating.
- Treatment of periodontal disease utilizing localized ultrasonic instrumentation and placement of resorbable antibiotics to treat pockets instead of gum surgery.
And a whole list of preventive procedures which could be considered the ultimate in minimally invasive dentistry. After all, preventing dental disease is the least invasive dental care of all.
Even with our best efforts and most advanced technology nothing can rival the strength, beauty, comfort, and functionality of healthy natural teeth in proper alignment. When teeth are in need of repair or enhancement the less we have to do the better as long as the treatment or aesthetic goals are met. Make sure that you and your dentist consider the concept of minimally invasive dentistry in making any treatment decisions.