What is Conservative Dentistry?
Conservative dentistry, a treatment process whereby a minimum of healthy tooth structure is removed during the restorative process, is inherently a desirable dental objective. Natural enamel and natural dentin are still the best dental materials in existence, and thus, minimally invasive procedures that conserve more of the original, healthy tooth structure are preferable.
Minimally invasive dental procedures are beneficial from a patient’s point of view as well. There is less discomfort, less need for local anesthesia, and a real prospect that the repaired natural tooth will last a lifetime. Conservative Dentistry means to preserve your natural teeth for as long and as often as possible. Basically, it means making options like permanent dentures or porcelain veneers a last resort. When a dentist has to remove “bad tissue,” they should minimize how much tooth is removed. There are certain procedures, conservative procedures, where the goal is preserving a tooth as long as it’s viable. Conservative dentistry can be applied to a wide range of dental procedures including whitening, orthodontics and even your regular cleaning. It starts by carefully assessing the mouth to see just how much irreversible damage there is—then a game plan is formed. Tooth integrity is upheld whenever possible, and treatment plans are created so that there are minimal repeated occurrences. For example, during a routine procedure like a filling, a conservative dentist will precisely remove only the dead or irreversibly damaged areas while leaving 100 percent of the healthy material. A tooth colored filling is a common procedure that’s ideal for conservative dentistry. In fact, fillings can help preserve a tooth’s integrity, making it an ideal match. How long tooth restoration takes will depend on how many teeth are involved and how severe the damage is. However, the end goal is retaining as much of the tooth as possible—follow-up appointments are scheduled to check that the tooth stays healthy and doesn’t face any new problems. Like conservative healthcare across the medical fields, prevention is key. That’s why conservative dentists, like Sunnyvale Dentist Dr. Antonious, will encourage patients to keep their six-month checkups. Catching dental diseases early is crucial for providing the best treatment and conservation of teeth. A conservative dentist also values education, information and working as a team with the patient and dental specialists. Measures you take daily to reduce gum disease can make dentistry a natural (more affordable, less uncomfortable and less invasive) option in the future. Not all dentists practice conservative dentistry but it’s an important mindset to have.
Conservative dentistry focuses on saving natural teeth that have defects due to dental caries, trauma, abrasion or attrition, and esthetic disharmony including developmental anomalies or tooth discoloration, as well as pulpal and/or periapical diseases to maintain their inherent masticatory, phonetic and esthetic function and the physiologic integrity in harmonious relationship with the adjacent hard and soft tissues through diagnosis, treatment, post-op evaluation and prevention.
Conservative Treatment Philosophy
Having differing treatment philosophies doesn’t necessarily mean that one dentist is “right” and the other dentist is “wrong”. Usually, dentists who treat more “aggressively” will choose more aggressive treatments for themselves, while more conservative dentists will choose more conservative treatments for themselves.
Most dentists will also take into account other things when suggesting what to treat and how, for example their patient’s diet, dental history, medical problems, and the likelihood that things will become a problem if not treated.
Here is what Sunnyvale Dentist Dr. Antonious has to say about conservative dentistry, “In my dental practice, Sunnyvale Dental Care, we are realistic with our patients. We are honest about what we see as a concern and we are honest about when we believe treatment must be sought. We work within our patient’s desires and goals. We do fully inform our patients about what we see. Together with the patient we create their plan for treatment based on current dental science, based on my experience, and based upon their desires.
In planning treatment in this way, we are fully informing our patient and we are respecting their ability to be involved in the planning of their care. By creating plans for care in this way, we are addressing what is most important at the time. Sunnyvale Dental Care patients appreciate the way in which we treat them and respect them. Many find this philosophy of care refreshing. Many patients do not want to feel pressured into care they do not want nor value.”
Conservative dentistry is not by itself a dental service. It is an approach that helps performing many dental services. For example, even a root canal preparation can be done with a conservative approach or even an implant surgery.