Jim Erpenbach DDS

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Seek to Preserve, Not Destroy

If you ask most people what they know about biomimetic dentistry, they’ll probably return your question with a question – something along the lines of "Bio-what?" That’s because, despite the fact that more dentists are choosing to practice this type of dentistry each year, biomimetic dentistry is still a relatively unheard of dental specialization. Dr. Erpenbach not only practices biomimetic dentistry, but he is also a pioneer in this field. He also works to educate other dentists on this topic and is a teaching mentor on minimally invasive and preventative dentistry.

Biomimetic dentistry is dentistry that that focuses on tooth conservation. Conservation means keeping the tooth in its original and best natural state. This means when biomimetic dentists treat patients for cavities and tooth decay, they use light touch tools like air abrasion to gently remove only the affected area without impacting the healthy enamel around it. Biomimetic dentistry also uses materials to repair the teeth that are similarly structured to the tooth’s enamel. In fact, the word biomimetic means "to mimic nature". By using materials that are similar in nature to the tooth enamel, repairs, and restorations, like fillings, to adhere tightly to the tooth and results in restorations that last.

This is all in contrast to traditional dentistry which has more of a drill and fill approach. During traditional treatment, dentists drill out the cavity into a larger hole. The hole is then plugged with a metal filling. This filing cannot bond to the tooth like biomimetic materials. Because the filling cannot bond to the tooth, the filling can experience significant wear and tear – even from normal use like biting and chewing. This wear and tear can cause the filling to break and even fall out. If this happens, patients face root canals or crowns – two procedures that also involve even further reduction in the tooth structure.

Biomimetic dentists also believe that the best kind of dentistry is the least amount of dentistry. This doesn’t mean that they advocate skipping regular check ups. Instead, this means limiting treatments and procedures to only what is necessary and treating only areas that are impacted by decay. This is the best approach to conserving the tooth.

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