How Conservative Dentistry Can Save Your Teeth (And $$$)

Toothbrushes fanned out with text "Save your smile with conservative dentistry"
Toothbrushes fanned out with text "Save your smile with conservative dentistry"

Dentistry in the United States has a minimal amount of supervision – quite unusual for a medical field.

This gives dentists the freedom to propose what they think is best. Unfortunately, some dentists take advantage of this and recommend treatments for their own financial gain.

That’s why you can’t go wrong with conservative dentistry.

What is conservative dentistry?

Conservative dentistry preserves your teeth with minimally invasive procedures. The goal is to treat your teeth without removing any unnecessary healthy tooth structure.

What happens when you remove tooth structure?

  • Your tooth becomes weaker. Your natural enamel and dentin are two of the best dental materials! Why would you want to lose that?
  • You’re at risk for more dental problems. With aggressive and invasive procedures, you may skip ahead of smaller treatments, like a filling, and become limited in options.
  • It will cost you more money out of pocket today and down the road.

Now, with conservative dentistry, you will experience:

  • Less discomfort. Smaller procedures do not require as much anesthesia or downtime.
  • More savings! By only treating what needs to be done, you can save money in the short and long run.
  • Stronger teeth. Enamel is the hardest substance in your body. More of it will only help your oral and overall health.
  • No regrets! Conservative dentistry is the moral and ethical thing to do.

Conservative dentistry is primarily applicable to restorative dentistry with procedures like fillings and crowns, but it can also be applied to cosmetic dentistry, such as veneers.

A real-life example of saving a tooth with conservative dentistry

At Kim Rioux, DDS, we follow the Hippocratic paradigm, “First do no harm.”

When you seek dental care from our Gig Harbor dentist, she will look for ways to NOT remove your healthy tooth structure. Because once you remove it, there is no going back.

In this real patient example, you will see how Dr. Kim Rioux was able to save healthy tooth structure by utilizing “opportunistic access.” What’s that?

Usually, when there is decay between teeth, the only way to treat it is through the chewing surface of the tooth. But not in this case…

Two x-rays and two photos showing the process of restoring a tooth with conservative dentistry methods

In picture one, you can see a cavity on the backside of a tooth – next to a tooth with an old filling that needs to be replaced.

Since we needed to replace the filling next to the new cavity, Dr. Rioux was able to use the opportunistic access approach.

She accessed the new cavity by utilizing the replacement of the existing filling (see picture two). No healthy tooth structured was harmed in the making!

Typically, we need to go through the chewing surface and extend the prep around the sides to allow for the matrix (the form we use to restore the tooth) and access to place the filling materials.

Creating this access meant the prep was less than half the size it would have been for a traditional preparation! This creates a final restoration that is almost impossible to see (see picture three).

In the final x-ray (picture four), you can see the chewing surface was untouched. The only way to see the filling is on the x-ray.

Whenever the situation presents itself, we try our best to save every bit of tooth structure (and your money)!

Conservative dentistry is the right thing to do

Have you switched to a new dentist only to be told you need XYZ procedures? If something sounds off, it’s best you get another opinion – preferably from a conservative dentist – before moving forward with treatment.

Our dental team wants to see our patients smile until the end of time, which is why we “first do no harm” and try to keep your smile intact.

If there comes a time when more invasive procedures are the best course of action, we will be right there to help you too.

Would you like to experience conservative dentistry? If so, contact us today!

We are conveniently located in Gig Harbor, WA, and proudly serve our surrounding communities, including Bremerton, Port Orchard, Purdy, Port Angeles, and Tacoma.