Dentistry advances have changed the focus of clinicians from identifying cavities and restoring tooth function to more conservative approaches that favor detecting caries or tooth decay before they destroy tooth enamel. Restoration procedures focus on preserving as much of the tooth as possible. Detecting carious lesions or tooth decay helps prevent major restorations, and better oral hygiene holds the key to fighting bacteria. Bacteria live on the food particles left after eating, mixing with minerals in saliva to form plaque, which brushing and flossing help prevent.
The primary goals of minimally invasive dentistry include preserving teeth, proactively preventing caries, catching lesions and decay early, and restoring teeth with advanced technology that reduces pain, side effects, and loss of tooth enamel. Modern techniques include remineralization therapy, air abrasion, inlays and onlays, bite splints, digital impressioning, sealants, implant technology, laser surgery, digital radiography, and other techniques. Research shows that good oral hygiene helps prevent 90 percent of body diseases. Bacteria from the mouth can migrate to any part of the body, and dentists often notice symptoms of illness before patients or doctors.
We recommend that patients get regular checkups to detect symptoms of caries as quickly as possible, so minimally invasive dentistry has a better chance of preserving the teeth. Remineralization therapy arrests tooth caries when applied during the early stages of decay. Dental health has improved over the past four decades, but oral diseases continue to affect 95 percent of adults. Corrective actions for caries include filling in pits and fissures with advanced chemical sealants and using resin-based composites, flowable composites, and glass ionomers.
Minimally invasive tools include laser techniques, digital imaging that exposes patients to less radiation, air abrasion, sonar technology, and smaller surgical burs to remove hard tissue. Laser fiber optics, light-induced fluorescence, and optical coherence tomography offer oral surgeries that are more accurate that cause less collateral damage to tooth enamel and oral tissues. Dentists now offer their patients risk assessments that effectively age-progress the teeth, identify likely problems areas, and offer solutions to prevent trouble proactively.
Fluoride helps remineralize teeth, but exposure to low pH foods and drinks causes teeth to lose minerals. Glass ionomers are a restorative material that can slowly release fluoride ions that combine with minerals in foods and saliva to strengthen teeth and fight the bacteria that forms plaque. Dental composites that match the physical and optical properties of real teeth blend naturally with tooth color, and the chameleon effect makes these restorations invisible to casual observers. The benefits of getting brighter smiles that look natural persuade many patients to undergo procedures because of social and business pressures to look their best.
Advances in composite-resin technology offer better cosmetic dentistry, natural restorations, harder tooth surfaces, and resistance to bacteria. Minimal techniques cut down on drilling and filling, so patients can keep their teeth fortified with long-lasting materials that reduce the need for future dental repairs. Bio-active materials, remineralizations, and restorative resins help fight tooth decay and keep the strength and beauty of real teeth. The right techniques and dental materials match teeth seamlessly in color, contour and finish.
No Prep Veneers fall in to the category of minimally invasive dentistry, too. These super thin veneers are actually only 0.3mm thick and are bonded to the (unaffected) enamel of your natural tooth. Veneers bonded to pure enamel is the strongest bond in dentistry and should give tremendous cosmetic benefit for 10 to 20 years with no shots (injections).
Laser dentistry works on both hard and soft tissues to treat tooth sensitivity, detect cavities, prepare teeth for fillings, make gum surgeries safer, and carry out other dental techniques requiring precision and control. Lasers help regenerate nerves, whiten teeth, remove benign tumors. Dentists can operate many laser techniques, sometimes without anesthesia, and patients recover more quickly from laser surgeries than invasive cutting and drilling operations.
VELscope systems use a special spectrum wavelength of white light that makes normal tissues glow bright green, but abnormal areas appear darker. Most dentists run second screenings to confirm the problem areas, and brush biopsies show whether the dark areas test positive for cancer. Digital x-rays offer advanced imaging for sharper photos, faster processing, and less exposure to radiation. Patients enjoy many advances that make dental procedures more comfortable, so they no longer need to fear the dentist’s chair.
Dr. Jim Arnold operates an innovative clinic called Smiles by Arnold & Associates 951 Southpoint Cir # A Valparaiso, IN 46385 (219) 531-8914. He keeps abreast of the latest technology to offer patients better dental health, brighter smiles, treatments for periodontal diseases, and the latest services for crowns, implants, and veneers. Cosmetic procedures include the CEREC process, a great improvement over traditional crown therapy. The dentist applies a thin layer of reflective powder to the tooth to highlight it for 3-D imaging. Advanced software designs a perfect restoration created from ceramic, and the dentist bonds the crown with powerful adhesives.
The benefits of minimally invasive dentistry include natural implants, less drilling, disease prevention, minimal tooth loss, and better health for the whole body. Oral problems can lead to heart disease, osteoporosis, gastrointestinal infections, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, and diabetes. In fact, 95 percent of diabetics show signs of dental caries. Dental offices work with patients to prevent diseases, improve appearances, maintain oral health, and correct problems with less pain and better results.
Please see the following resources for further reading about advances in minimally invasive techniques.