Dentistry is continually evolving. Composite fillings have replaced the silver amalgam that dominated dentistry for 150 years. Dental implants have become a better solution than bridges for replacing a missing tooth or two. Dental anesthesia is far more effective today, with fewer lingering effects than just 20 years ago. Invisalign is removing the need for traditional metal bands and wires for many patients.
Dr. Fong takes great pride in staying at the forefront of all of these new technologies. The latest is known as biomimetic dentistry. He uses biomimetic dentistry to address weak, decayed, and fractured teeth, using new bonding materials that allow the patient to keep more of their natural tooth in the restoration.
What is biomimetic dentistry?
At its heart, biomimetic dentistry is the most conservative approach, aiming to preserve as much tooth structure as possible. With traditional dentistry methods, when a tooth has decay, the first step is to drill out the decayed material and replace it with either silver amalgam or composite resin. This often leads to the removal of more natural tooth mass than is necessary.
Biomimetic dentistry aims to be as conservative as possible. If a tooth is structurally compromised by decay or a crack, the damaged material is removed. By utilizing a diode laser, Dr. Fong is able to remove the minimum amount of tooth necessary to clear the bacteria and damage.
Then he reinforces the remaining tooth structure with a polyethylene fiber mesh. This allows the repaired tooth to disperse the energy applied in chewing, rather than create more risk of cracking the tooth, which can happen especially with amalgam fillings. Next, he places biocompatible bonding materials to finish the restoration beautifully. These new bonding materials are incredibly strong, yet also work to minimize future stress on the tooth. To do this, Dr. Fong places the bonding material in layers that are then hardened before the next layer is applied.
What are the benefits of biomimetic dentistry?
The basis of these methods is “less is more,” meaning that removing less of the natural tooth structure can deliver real benefits for the patient. This allows the patient to keep more of his or her tooth, which lessens the chances of needing more involved and invasive procedures, such as root canals, down the road.
This saves patients the need for future treatments, along with the corresponding money and time involved for these treatments.
These restorations are also virtually invisible when on the tooth. Dr. Fong uses the latest bonding materials that basically glue teeth back together instead of simply “filling” the space of the drilled-out tooth material. More of the tooth is preserved, and the restoration seals the tooth from future bacterial infection, all the while blending in perfectly with the surrounding natural enamel.
What are the risks involved with biomimetic dentistry?
Biomimetic methods aren’t available for many situations, such as a very deep crack in a tooth, but when they are possible these are very low-risk procedures. That’s because less of the natural tooth material needs to be removed in these processes. Because the latest bonding materials are used that create a seal on the restoration, there is a less future risk of infection, which also means less possible pain moving forward.
Who is a candidate for biomimetic dentistry?
Dr. Fong uses biomimetic dentistry methods when possible, but they cannot always be used. The degree of damage dictates if biomimetic practices can be used. For most decay and moderate damage, he can use the conservative approaches offered with biomimetic dentistry.
Dr. Fong’s extensive experience as both a general and cosmetic dentist, who now also has biomimetic dentistry training and tools at his disposal, provides our patients with the full range of options for keeping their oral health in tip-top shape.
How is biomimetic dentistry different from traditional dentistry?
This isn’t a full departure from one to the other. Dr. Fong simply has added biomimetic techniques to his practice to expand his service to his patients. The difference really comes in the approach to removing damaged tooth material and then replacing that material to restore the tooth. Traditional dentistry has looked to the first drill out all of the damaged material, along with some of the healthy teeth around it. Then a silver amalgam filling was placed. More recently, composite resin has replaced amalgam for fillings, which is a step forward. But these methods removed more of the natural tooth, which opens the door for the restoration to fail and requires additional procedures down the road.
Biomimetic dentistry removes only the minimum amount of decayed material, using lasers for precision when possible. Diode lasers have the side benefit of instantly sterilizing the area. Then, rather than placing a typical filling, the restoration is made with a polyethylene fiber mesh followed by the application of the most advanced bonding materials. These basically become small inlays/onlays on the tooth, which serve to strengthen the repaired tooth. They work, in essence, to glue the tooth back together. The bonding materials also provide a sealant to ward off future bacterial entry.
The difference between Dr. Fong’s traditional and biomimetic dentistry techniques is simply the degree of tooth material removed and the way the removed material is restored.
How long do biomimetic procedures take?
These are usually single-visit restorations at our Santa Ana offices. Of course, there isn’t any “set” timeframe, as every patient’s situation is unique. Removing the minimum amount of damaged tooth material keeps the appointment as short as possible. And not having to return to have a crown or other prosthetic applied saves patients a second visit.
Also, because these methods can head off the need for additional future treatments on the tooth, that saves time down the road.
Schedule Your Consultation Today
If you're interested in learning more about biomimetic procedures please contact us for a consultation at 714-549-1903 or fill out our contact us form. We will discuss your needs and concerns, and determine your best course of action.