Respect the smile

15 October 2022

Tif Qureshi explains the benefits of preserving natural teeth.

The philosophy of minimally invasive dentistry concerns a “systematic respect for the original tissue”, and the early detection and cure of oral diseases. Across the numerous fields within dentistry, minimally invasive procedures are being embraced by professionals as a useful concept to preserve as much healthy tissue and tooth structure as possible, while delivering dentistry that lasts. When you learn how to deliver fantastic dental care with minimal trauma, the benefits for you and your patients are plentiful.

Repair, don’t replace

Nowadays, many dentists are attempting to preserve a patient’s natural dentition before considering a restorative alternative. Of course, complications such as significant trauma or advanced caries mean that the tooth cannot always be saved. Fortunately, the patient can still undergo restorative treatment to restore the aesthetic and function of their smile. But, if achievable, saving the tooth is often preferred to protect the surrounding tissues as best, and for as long, as possible, to prolong the need for more complex procedures further down the line.

At the heart of minimally invasive dentistry is approaching each patient holistically, assessing the severity of their case and finding the best approach. Thankfully, many patients nowadays are moving away from the previously-popular ‘Hollywood smile’ and now seek more natural-looking results. A minimally invasive approach can absolutely achieve this, with minimal trauma to the teeth and gingiva. Dentists should consider keeping up-to-date with the latest techniques and conversations in minimally invasive dentistry, to ensure that they have the skill to deliver exceptional results for every patient.

Minimally invasive orthodontics

Within the field of orthodontics, many patients will be pleased to know that straightening the teeth is, sometimes, a form of restorative care. Instead of undergoing invasive and potentially traumatic treatment, orthodontic appliances such as clear aligners can gently straighten the teeth for improved hygiene and aesthetics. These procedures help to prevent further issues from occurring. Fixing misaligned teeth and correcting the bite, for example, can help to prevent the development of decay later on.

Undergoing training in these areas will give dentists new skills and knowledge, in addition to expanding their treatment options for their patients. Dentists can supplement these procedures with conservative, restorative treatment to further enhance patients’ smiles, in the form of tooth whitening or composite edge bonding, for example.

Composite bonding

Composite bonding is an alternative to dental crowns and veneers, with a variety of clinical indications. This can include supplementing thin teeth, filling cracks/fractures, aesthetic enhancement, covering exposed roots and improving the shape of the teeth. Composite bonding provides many benefits, most notably that material can be placed without having to remove extensive amounts of the natural tooth structure. Composite bonding is relatively inexpensive, can be performed quickly and repaired easily. For patients with financial restraints, or who simply do not want to undergo an invasive procedure, composite edge bonding is commonly a perfectly suitable option.

The Dahl approach

In 1975, B.L. Dahl introduced a method for treating localised anterior tooth wear, before posterior wear begins to develop. This non-invasive approach, can prevent the potential for oral rehabilitation, and stop the patient developing full-mouth wear.

Dahl suggested separating the posterior teeth from the anterior ones with an anterior bite plane. The combination of the passive eruption of the posterior teeth, and intrusion of the anterior teeth, helps the posterior occlusion to re-establish itself. The creation of inter-occlusal space reduces the amount of tooth preparation required for restoration, especially on a palatal surface that is already compromised. While Dahl originally used a metal appliance to separate the teeth, more modern materials can be applied, such as adhesive anterior direct composites.

In comparison to traditional restorative options, the Dahl technique allows patients in certain cases to be treated earlier on, before more extensive wear occurs and more complex treatment is indicated. Training in this area will give dentists an alternative approach to mild and moderate cases, granting them the benefits of minimally invasive dentistry while still delivering great results.

First-class education

IAS Academy offers the Ortho-Restorative course, which teaches dentists how to deliver a complete solution to their patients, combining their existing orthodontic knowledge with restorative and aesthetic dentistry. Created and led by Dr Tif Qureshi, but also delivered by Dr Andrew Wallace, Dr Geoff Stone, Dr Kelly Toft and Dr Sebastian Wilkins, the Ortho-Restorative course will explore both theory and hands-on learning, covering topics such as: edge bonding and polishing, aesthetic tooth shaping, the Dahl principle and bleaching protocols. This exciting course is set over one day and is worth seven hours of verifiable CPD. For dentists seeking to recognise and harness the benefits of minimally invasive dentistry, the Ortho-Restorative programme from IAS Academy is the ideal choice. 

By learning about the advantages of minimally invasive dentistry, you can approach each case with a new lens, providing more choice for patients and allowing them to enjoy their natural teeth for as long as possible.

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