I think about teeth a lot…maybe to an unhealthy point in some degree. My wife will tell you many stories about the most random times I start telling her about enamel and dentin, bond strengths, how a natural tooth functions, collagen degradation by matrix metalloproteinases (yes those are big words and yes that is a real thing), etc. But I know I married the right woman when she looks at me, acts totally surprised, and plays into it just because she knows it makes makes me happy!
It was due to my love of teeth and the health impact the oral cavity can have on one’s body that I discovered Biomimetic dentistry. A couple years into my career, I started to feel as though many traditional treatments I had been taught were just too invasive, too aggressive for the time period we are in and overall advancements in dentistry. I began to look in the mirror at night and feel there had to be a better way to treat damaged, decayed, and broken down teeth…and I soon discovered Biomimetic dentistry was that way.
This approach is much more than just being minimally invasive, although this principle is very much at its core. Many dentists claim to be minimally invasive, and I do not doubt that in some cases they really are. But I believe it all starts with understanding how the natural, intact tooth has been made, what properties the different layers contribute to the tooth, and how all of those layers function as an entire unit. Once you really begin to read the research and grasp how incredible a tooth has been created, you then desire to use nature as your blueprint for rebuilding and restoring that tooth. For example, a research article in 2000 proved the two layers of your tooth, enamel and dentin, are connected with a strength of 51.5 megapascals. To put this into perspective, this is equivalent to being able to hang nearly 1000 pounds from 9×9 square millimeters (close to the size of the top of your tooth)! Just chew on that for a second (pun intended)…now that is some crazy, God-given bond strength!
I began to understand an intact, untouched tooth is the best blueprint for us to mimic/copy when we restore a tooth. This is where the word Biomimetic comes from (”bio” meaning life or nature and “mimetic” meaning to mimic or copy), and this is the approach I take with all of my patients07.
In the fall of 2017 I flew to California and spent a lot of time learning this new approach from the pioneers and leaders in this field, and I began to realize this is the dentistry all dentists should be providing! As a biomimetic dentist, I make every effort to copy the way the natural tooth was made when restoring or rebuilding a damaged, decayed, broken down tooth. This includes the use of various restorative materials that have similar characteristics to the natural layers of your tooth (ie enamel, dentin, deep dentin). As a result, the tooth is best able to function, flex, look, and feel like a natural tooth. In addition, biomimetic dentistry aims to maximize the bond strengths of restorations and decreasing the overall stresses on the tooth. Specific, research driven protocols are followed to attain these goals. In some cases, the use of ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene fibers (say that ten times fast) are used to reinforce and strengthen restorations, allow for higher bond strengths, and help to decrease residual stresses to the tooth. Taking time to do these things correctly will effectively seal the tooth from further bacterial invasion and decay. In addition, this also restores function, strength, integrity, and esthetics to the tooth, returning it very close to what nature truly intended.
Leveraging Biomimetics and using these protocols not only preserves a lot more tooth structure (I rarely treat with a conventional crown as it is not necessary and much too invasive) but also helps my patients save money in the long run by helping to prevent the need for further treatment, such as crowns, root canals, extractions, etc.
If I have your interest and you want to learn more, you can check it out here!