Natural teeth have the optimal properties & structure to withstand the many challenges of the oral environment. Biomimetic dentistry replicates natural teeth with restorations that mimic the function, strength, and biomechanics of healthy intact teeth.
Traditional approaches to restore teeth fail to replicate these properties and ultimately result in major complications that can be avoided.
Many procedures in dentistry have remained unchanged for many decades because of the premise that they have worked adequately. What is adequate though? Do you want adequate treatment or the best treatment modern dentistry has to offer? This is the problem with dentistry today, and the truth is that we have the technology, science, materials, and techniques to provide better options for patients. Biomimetic Dentistry replicates natural teeth, giving us the ability to provide the most natural, strong restorations like real teeth.
The Structure and Properties of Natural Teeth
It is essential to appreciate the properties and structure of natural teeth in order to understand how and why biomimetic dentistry is special. The natural tooth is a layered structure consisting of a strong outer shell of enamel, strongly connected (“adhered”) to a more flexible inner core of dentin. The deepest central core of the tooth (“pulp chamber”) consists of only soft tissue known as the pulp. We will review each of these layers and the significance of their properties to the overall function, biology, and biomechanics of the tooth. Watch the video below or read on to learn more.
Enamel is the Strong Outer Layer of the tooth
Enamel makes up the outermost layer of the tooth. It is comprised of 96% minerals, the primary one being hydroxyapatite. This is a crystalline calcium phosphate. The remaining percentage is water and organic material. As a result of the highly mineralized structure, the enamel is the hardest substance in the human body. Enamel is responsible for the strength, hardness, and protection of the teeth. However, the enamel is extremely brittle! If the tooth was made entirely of enamel, fractures of the tooth would be very common and result in catastrophic failures that would not be saveable. Why is enamel so frequently praised in dentistry?
Dentin Supports Enamel and Provides for the Resilience and Fracture Resistance of the Tooth
While the enamel provides the strong outer shell, its brittle nature is unsuitable for the oral environment without a stress relief mechanism. Fortunately, the inner dentin core of the tooth provides this necessary flexibility and prevents enamel from fractures. Dentin is composed of about 45% hydroxyapatite and 33% organic material and the rest is water. The increased organic content of dentin provides the flexibility and support that enamel needs.
The Dentin Enamel Junction (DEJ) Joins the Enamel and Dentin
Enamel and dentin are two distinctly separate layers. They are formed independently, and their properties are unique. These two materials with diverging properties do not benefit from each other unless they are strongly united with a durable adhesion. This extremely strong connection is formed naturally by the dentin enamel junction (DEJ). This strong connection makes enamel and dentin function together as a hybrid material which has the benefits of both materials, and this would be impossible with a weak connection.
The Pulp Provides the Vitality of the Tooth
The pulp is the nerve center of the tooth. It consists of nerves, blood vessels, lymphatic vessels, and connective tissue. The blood vessels and nerves here are connected to the larger blood vessels and nerves running along the jaw. The pulp gives life to the tooth by supplying nutrients and circulation. When this vitality is lost, the biology of the tooth is disrupted and various infections result.
Loss of vitality can result from:
- Periodontal disease
- Inadequate & failing restorations
- Excessive tooth shaving and drilling
Preserving pulp vitality is one of the major objectives of biomimetic dentistry and drastically reduces the incidence of future complications and problems. Traditional restorative techniques do not adequately prioritize the importance of maintaining pulp vitality.
Biomimetic protocols and techniques prevent the conditions which lead to root canals. As a result, the occurrence of root canals can be drastically reduced.
Biomimetic dentistry preserves pulp vitality by:
- Providing high-quality restorations
- Treating teeth conservatively
- Minimizing tooth shaving and drilling
- Preserving healthy portions of the tooth
- Early & definitive intervention
- Achieving a strong durable seal
- Selectivey removing only areas affected by cavities
Biomimetic Dentistry Saves teeth from unnecessary shaving and drilling.
Cavities damage the structure of enamel and dentin. If they are not treated in time, the cavity will reach the pulp and lead to irreversible damage. Once this has occurred, there is no way to reverse the damage and maintain the vitality of the pulp. For this reason, the pulp tissue will have to be removed or the tooth will need to be extracted. A root canal procedure removes the pulp tissue, disinfects the tooth, and seals the pulp area. A better approach is to prevent conditions that lead to loss of vitality.
One major way pulp vitality is maintained is through treating problems and cavities conservatively with restorations that are intended to be permanent. A permanent restoration doesn’t mean that it will last forever. It means it is designed to have results similar to other permanent natural teeth in the same environment, which varies from patient to patient.
In contrast, traditional dentistry requires lots of additional tooth shaving to make the filling stronger or to place a crown on the tooth. The more tooth structure that is removed, the weaker the tooth becomes, and the higher the chance of major complications (fractures, root canals, and cracks). Biomimetic dentistry addresses the problems in the most conservative manner possible.
How does Biomimetic Dentistry Replicate Natural Teeth?
Biomimetic dentistry replicates natural teeth by using materials, protocols, and techniques that best mimics and preserve the various layers of the teeth. Teeth restored with biomimetic dentistry have similar properties, structure, and biology to that of natural teeth. Biomimetic dentistry is a healthier, better, and safer alternative to traditional dentistry.
The table below summarizes the ways that biomimetic dentistry mimics natural teeth.
|Tooth Layer||How its Replicated or Preserved|
|Enamel||Strong ceramic materials mimic the properties and strength of enamel.|
|Dentin||Composite materials provide the flexibility and optimal properties to replace the dentin portions of the tooth.|
|DEJ||Strong adhesives applied with optimal conditions and protocols provide a strong connection between enamel and dentin. This provides optimal seal and biomechanical properties of enamel and dentin function together.|
|Pulp||The vitality of the pulp is conserved by minimizing shaving and drilling, and selectively removing cavities and damaged areas of the tooth. High quality restorations provide a strong biological seal that prevents leackage and recurrent problems.|
Learn More About Biomimetic Dentistry
Biomimetic dentistry is growing in popularity among patients and dentists. I have been practicing Biomimetic dentistry since 2010, and training dentists on how to implement this approach in their practices. To learn more about biomimetic dentistry, sign up for my free biomimetic dental course designed especially for patients.