What is Minimal Intervention Dentistry?
Minimal Intervention Dentistry (MID) is a very important development in dental practice. It’s aim is to preserve of as much of your natural tooth structure as possible. First, we control and manage the disease that causes tooth decay (dental caries). Then we treat the damages it causes—the decayed teeth. We help you to keep your mouth healthier, for longer. MID is a complete management solution for tooth decay.
Is MID different from normal dentistry?
This depends on your definition of ‘normal’: do you actually mean ‘traditional’?
Traditional dental care is centred around treating the effects of dental disease. This type of care includes fillings, root canal treatments, crowns, extractions, bridges and dentures.
Sound familiar? To most people who have been to the dentist in the last 60 years, this will be recognisable immediately – this is the way you will have been treated under the NHS. You will have gone to the dentist for an examination, been told you require some treatment, received that treatment and then left.
Sadly, many studies have shown that this makes little difference to the overall health of your mouth. This is because you’re caught in a repeat spiral of treatment, where fillings (restorations) are placed, only to be replaced later when dental disease begins again. Each successive replacement results in the loss of more tooth structure, and the restoration increases in size each time it is renewed. Eventually the tooth can’t be repaired any further, and has to be removed.
Find out more about this, and read a case history, by going to our Downloads page
The simple (but frequently ignored) fact is: fillings, crowns and root canal treatments will not give you good oral health, unless the underlying disease process is addressed.
So why doesn’t every dentist practice MID?
It’s unfortunate, but there are probably several reasons why MID isn’t part of routine dental practice in the UK. Some of the most likely are
- many dentists lack of training and education in this subject
- organisations who pay for dental treatment may lack understanding of the MID concept
At Space Healthcare we understand just how important the principles of MID are in promoting great oral health and preventing disease.
Treating Decay Without Fillings
Traditionally, your dentist would tell you if had decay in a tooth and then you’d need a filling.
Sometimes, if the decay wasn’t too serious, your dentist would ‘watch’ the tooth (in other words, delay treatment until the decay eventually became serious enough to need a filling)
The problem is that, sooner or later, you still end up with a filling.
Wouldn’t it be better to avoid the filling altogether? The ideal solution would be to prevent the decay starting in the first place. But, if decay had started, who’d want to have a filling it there was better way to treat the decay?
MID now has some great solutions to these problems. The choice of treatment depends on how advanced the decay has become
Preventing decay and treating early decay
Some parts of your teeth are more vulnerable to decay than others. The areas most likely to be affected are the biting surfaces of the back teeth and the surfaces where the teeth touch together.
Space Healthcare’s detailed dental examination is designed to allow us to identify vulnerable teeth using the latest technology such as magnification, digital x-rays and fluorescence imaging.
If decay is likely to happen in your mouth, we can help to prevent it using fissure sealants.
We only use sealants that are free from BPA: there’s no research to suggest that fissure sealants can cause any health problems, but at Space Healthcare we aim to provide the best and safest treatments possible. You can download a copy of the latest advice about bis phenol A (BPA) from the American Dental Association:
If the early stages of decay have already started, we can help to stop the process (and even ‘heal’ the early damage) by using special fluoride-containing coatings.
Treating decay without fillings
If the decay process continues it is less likely that fluoride or fissure sealants will help.
Traditionally, many dentists choose to treat decay at this stage by placing a filling, on the assumption that it’s better to have a small filling than risk delaying treatment and finding the decay continues – and ending up with a much larger filling.
Sometimes the dentist can ‘watch’ the tooth, rather than placing a filling. Unfortunately, unless something else is changed, this is merely delaying the inevitable. Eventually the decay extends to the point where a filling is needed.
At Space Healthcare we can use revolutionary new technology – called Resin Infiltration – to treat decay without the need for a filling. Long-term protection of the affected tooth surface will make future decay much less likely
When the decay is more extensive, the tooth surface develops a cavity. At this stage there’s no alternative – you’re not able to clean the plaque away from the inside of the cavity, so to stop the disease process the tooth needs a filling.
The aim of our MID approach is to clean away damaged tooth structure and meticulously re-create a sealed tooth surface. At Space Healthcare, our range of advanced white filling materials allows us to restore your tooth as close to it’s original state as possible, leaving the best chance of continued long-term health.
By the time you start to get symptoms (such as sensitivity to temperature or toothache), the decay process has already caused significant damage to your tooth. The blood and nerve supply (the dental pulp) that keeps the tooth alive may be permanently affected.
If you’re lucky we can restore the tooth with a filling. Because the damage to the tooth is always more extensive that it appears on the surface, at this stage in the decay process any filling will inevitably be big!
If you’re not so fortunate, the decay will have also damaged the pulp of the tooth. In these situations a filling alone will not solve the problem. To save the tooth you’ll need root canal treatment (endodontic treatment). And the tooth will probably be so badly damaged by decay that it will need protecting and rebuilding with a crown after the root canal work is complete.