Integrative Dentistry – Minimally Invasive Dentistry

Viera_Sept13-3-1 copyby Chris Edwards, DDS

Published October 2013

Minimally Invasive Dentistry

Your tooth aches, or when you bite down you get that “zing” feeling. You need to go to the dentist and you’re not exactly looking forward to it. What you dread most isn’t the pain, there‘s local anesthesia that takes care of that, but there is the shot to contend with. What you want to avoid most is the drill, the dentist’s “handpiece.” Its high-pitched whine sounds worse than a million mosquitoes on steroids, resurrecting frightening memories from the past.

If this sounds like you, and you haven’t been to the dentist in a while, you may not be aware of Minimally Invasive Dentistry and drill-less dentistry. If you don’t delay getting to the dentist with your problem, air abrasion comes to the rescue. Air abrasion is the modern, minimally invasive way of cleaning out tooth decay. It works like a tiny sandblaster. Compressed helium and an abrasive powder blow the decay out of your tooth.

Minimally Invasive Dentistry conserves healthy tooth structure by focusing on prevention, remineralization and minimal dentist intervention. Using scientific advances, like the Diagnodent laser cavity detector, Minimally Invasive Dentistry allows dentists to perform the appropriate amount of dentistry needed without ever removing more of the tooth structure than is required to restore teeth to their optimal condition.

An additional benefit is Minimally Invasive Dentistry’s reliance on long-lasting dental materials that conserve the maximum tooth structure, so need for future repairs is reduced.

Dentistry has come a long way since the early 1800s, when amalgam fillings first appeared. These fillings, made with silver powder, liquid mercury, and some tin, copper and a few trace minerals are worrisome to patients who fear the effects on their health. Patients may not realize how destructive amalgam fillings can be to the tooth. These amalgam fillings do not bond to the tooth, so the dentist must place undercuts in the tooth to keep the filling from falling out.

The amalgam fillings expand and contract at different rates than tooth structure, and fractures usually develop in the tooth, even with relatively small fillings. Pain when biting, particularly a sharp “zing” if you bite a certain way, is a strong indication that the fracture is irritating the nerve inside the tooth.

By this time, a crown or onlay to cover the tooth and hold the fracture is the best hope to save the tooth. These days CEREC, which is a minimally invasive crown and partial crown one visit technology, is available to repair favorable fractures while saving healthy tooth structure. Others will need periodontal crown lengthening surgery or a root canal before being crowned. A small percentage with a catastrophically fracture must be extracted.

The best way to avoid these painful and costly problems is prevention. Brushing and flossing, regular dental checkups, and Xylitol therapy have been very successful in reducing decay-causing streptococcus bacteria, which results in a rise in the pH leading towards caries.

Our next article will explain the differences and similarities between a traditional dentist and a holistic/biologic dentist


Dr. Edwards graduated from the United States Merchant Marine Academy and Temple University School of Dentistry. He completed a general practice residency at the Queens Medical Center in Honolulu. To reach Dr. Edwards you may call 321-751-7775 or visit