Holistic dentistry and conservative dentistry are growing in popularity rapidly, as awareness of the benefits are coming to light. When it comes to your teeth, nothing is more holistic than preserving your natural teeth and preventing routine dental procedures from resulting in complications such as extractions, root canals, and crowns. A conservative treatment approach, combined with natural tooth-like materials can prevent these complications and avoid repetitive replacement of dental restorations. The scientifically supported approach to treating teeth with this conservative and natural approach is known as biomimetic dentistry.
Holistic Dentistry and Tooth Preservation
Ideally, your permanent teeth would last your entire life. With proper maintenance and care, this is easily achievable because the structure and design of natural teeth are extremely well-engineered to survive in the oral environment. However, teeth can become damaged and experience complications and our ability to repair the teeth adequately is critical to preventing further problems. The goal of holistic dentistry is to conservatively restore teeth with natural materials and avoid biological reactions from metals, mercury, and root canals. Many root canals can be avoided with a conservative treatment approach. Biomimetic dentistry uses tooth conserving restorations which restore the structure, function, and strength of natural teeth while preventing root canals and extractions.
Does a holistic dentist practice biomimetic dentistry?
It’s possible to practice both holistic and biomimetic dentistry, but a holistic dentist does not usually practice biomimetic dentistry. Holistic dentists prioritize the connection between the mouth and whole-body health. The major priority is to prevent and avoid dental treatments and materials which cause complications such as metal fillings, metal crowns, and root canal treatments. However, the shortcoming of holistic dentistry is the method and protocols which are used to alternatively restore the teeth. Teeth restored with holistic restorations do not restore the strength and properties of natural teeth adequately to avoid further complications long-term.
When you look at the term “biomimetic”, you notice that it is derived from two words: biology (“bio”) and mimic (“mimetic”). Biology is the study of life or living matter, and mimic means to imitate or copy. Biomimetic dentistry uses scientifically supported techniques, materials, and protocols to mimic and conserve natural teeth and avoid complications. By protecting teeth, preventing root canals, and using tooth-like natural materials, biomimetic dentistry provides a holistic approach that avoids biological complications and repetitive failures of dental restorations. The distinction is in the quality, strength, and integrity of the restored tooth.
Biomimetic dentistry is a type of dentistry which conservatively restores the strength, function, and properties of natural teeth.
Important Objectives of Biomimetic Dentistry:
- Conserve Healthy Intact Tooth Structure
- Keep teeth alive (“preserve vitality”)
- and prevent root canals
- Use dental materials that mimic natural tooth structure
- Restore and repair the strength and function of natural teeth
- Create a strong biological seal to minimize re-occurring failures and cavities
Conservative Dentistry with a Biomimetic Approach
In traditional dentistry, a decayed or damaged tooth would need to be “prepared” for a filling or crown. In these procedures, the affected or damaged part of the tooth would be removed. Some of the healthy structure would need to be removed also in order to put in a filling or place the crown. When a tooth had a large cavitiy, or if it was severely damaged, the preparation process could traumatize the tooth nerve (“tooth pulp”) and cause degeneration leading to a dead nerve (“necrotic pulp”). As a result, a Root canal or extraction would then be necessary.
Advancements in dentistry over the past few decades have led to the development of dental materials and techniques that eliminate the need to remove healthy tooth structure to repair and restore teeth. Holistic dentistry uses these types of materials but fails to restore the strength and integrity of an intact tooth because the material properties, protocols, and application techniques are not optimal.
Instead, Biomimetic dentistry uses only materials that mimic the properties and structure of natural tooth layers (Enamel, Dentin, and DEJ) with techniques that result in minimal stress and maximum adhesion to the remaining tooth. The strong adhesion (or “bond”) of the dental material to tooth structure restores the strength, structure, and biomechanics of intact natural teeth. This also forms a strong seal that prevents leakage and bacterial invasion. As a result, teeth restored with the biomimetic approach are less likely to experience complications or need root canals. Holistic dentistry does not benefit from these same advantages unless biomimetic dentistry is utilized, and this is why biomimetic dentistry is critical for a holistic care philosophy.