Science plays a significant role in dentistry – and research studies frequently help dentists to develop new ways to treat patients. Dr. Erpenbach makes it his mission to be informed and educated on hot topics and current news in dental research, and he also endeavors to learn new techniques in order to best treat patients. This blog explains a little bit about the roles science and technology play in dentistry, and why they are highly valued in his practice.
Science and technology have advanced considerably over the last 40 years. Old methods of dental restorations are no longer taught, so the way dentists perform restorations has changed. Many dentists are now using new methods that use biomimetic, or lifelike, materials that bond tightly to the tooth itself, versus techniques of old that used mercury amalgam or other materials to restore the teeth after decay.
These methods and materials are based on the same techniques and materials that NASA uses to adhere tiles to space shuttles and other space aircraft. They are extremely durable, and restorations that use these materials and techniques are extremely long lasting. This is in contrast to traditional restorations that have an estimated lifespan of only a few years.
As a result of the tight bonding capabilities of these new materials, dentists no longer have to remove additional enamel to make room for restorations. Now, they are able to simply treat decay by neutralizing bacteria and applying the restoration material precisely to the area that has been affected by decay. This is not to say that every tooth is salvageable, as some may have significant decay and must be extracted. Tooth preservation is Dr. Erpenbach’s number one goal, but it in some cases is not always possible.
Other advances in technology that have made a significant impact in treatment include the use of polycarbonate fibers, like the material used for Kevlar bulletproof vests. When these materials are used in dental restorations, they restore flex and function to teeth that have been severely damaged by decay.
New methods of measuring the bite of patients have also developed to allow dentists to take the guess work out of bite measurements. New T-scan bite technology allows dentists to instantly measure a patient’s bite timing, pressure, and alignment. This helps the dentist form a specific plan for treating bite alignment issues.
Dr. Erpenbach is an advocate of continuing education for dentists and dental professionals, and also believes that patients should also be educated in order to be healthy and have healthy teeth. He does caution patients to check their resources, and if they have questions to ask their dentist instead of relying on Internet searches for advice.
Questions for Dr. Erpenbach? Give him a call today at 865.240.2035.