Biomimetic Dentistry

If you're in your 30's, 40's or older, and your dentist tells you you have a cavity, there's an 80% chance that it's not a new cavity but an old filling that has gotten more decay.

This requires removing the old filling, the newly formed decay, as well as more of your healthy tooth structure. At some point, most dentists will attempt to solve the problem by crowning what is left of the tooth. Many think that’s a permanent solution. It’s not. Crowns have to be re-done. Crowns have microleakage which allow bacteria to enter under them. This often leads to needing a root canal.
Please read the FAQ below to see how biomimetic dentistry can stop this failed tooth restoration cycle.

Biomimetic Dentistry is a very tooth-conservative approach to fixing damaged teeth. Biomimetic dentistry is a scientifically proven technique that focuses on the correct bonding and sealing of broken or decayed teeth in a way that copies nature. This means that more of your natural tooth is preserved during every dental procedure at our office.

DYou may wonder why conservative dentistry really matters. Unlike other parts of your body, your teeth do not mend on their own. It is therefore important to conserve as much natural tooth structure as possible. The best dentistry (the dentistry that will be better for your mouth long term) is also the least invasive dentistry. This is the philosophy behind Biomimetic dentistry and Dr. Ames’s approach to helping you achieve your best smile. Because we perform minimally invasive procedures, you experience less pain and discomfort, longer-lasting restorations and an overall healthier mouth.:

Biomimetic dentistry offers several benefits in aesthetics, function, cost, pain management and overall long-term dental health.

  • Aesthetically, when your tooth is restored biomimetically, Dr. Ames can add depth of color, shine and shape not possible with conventional restorations. This creates a better look and feel for your restored tooth, allowing it to better match the existing teeth surrounding it.
  • The functionality of a biomimetically restored tooth offers significant benefits versus a traditional restoration. Biomimetic dentistry differs most significantly in function. This is because when your tooth is restored biomimetically it flexes in a similar manner as your natural dentin (the part of your tooth that creates the needed shock absorption during use). Hard crowns and traditional fillings do not offer this flexibility. This leads to breaks and cracks in your natural teeth beneath the crown or filling and translates in to further damage and more costly dental repairs—things avoided by Biomimetic dentistry.
  • Biomimetic restorations have proven to be more cost-effective than traditional restorations because they require less expensive repairs over the life of the restoration. This saves you extra visits to the dentist and dental specialists.
  • You will notice a significant difference in the lack of pain and sensitivity of your biomimetically repaired teeth versus your teeth restored with conventional crowns and fillings. This is due largely to the fact that Biomimetic dentistry focuses on only removing the damaged or structurally compromised parts of a tooth and then delicately rebuilding it using correct bonding procedures, sealing out any bacteria that create infection.
  • The science behind Biomimetic dentistry proves its high long-term success rate. More than 90 percent of biomimetically-repaired teeth will never need a root canal or traditional crown. Moreover, because you maintain more of your natural tooth structure with Biomimetic dentistry, your tooth remains healthier for longer.

These are many of the reasons Dr. Ames implemented biomimetic dentistry in her practice. As always, your dental health is of the utmost importance to Dr. Ames. She truly cares about your long-term oral health. Biomimetic dentistry is very conservative, which means you have stronger, longer-lasting teeth throughout your lifetime, truly helping you achieve your best smile.

Dr. Ames is one of only a handful of dentists in the Metro NY area who can perform biomimetic procedures. This technique requires extensive training and continuing education, in which Dr. Ames has invested the time to complete. It also requires the use of extremely high-magnification telescope lenses to produce long lasting results. Because it is so specialized and time intensive, not many dentists have received the training needed to provide this conservative technique.

No. Amalgam, commonly known as a silver filling, has been used for years. These fillings have no adhesive properties and simply fill space inside of your tooth. They do not support your surrounding tooth structure and if left in teeth long-term swell and eventually crack and break teeth. These fillings also contain mercury, a toxic substance. Many patients are unhappy with the unaesthetic appearance of these restorations.

White composite fillings are more aesthetic and provide some adhesion properties to strengthen teeth, but with time these fillings expand and contract differently than the tooth structure and eventually leak and develop cavities beneath them.

Biomimetic fillings are very aesthetic restorations. These fillings provide a long-lasting bond to teeth that does not breakdown with time. This helps to support your remaining good tooth structure and seal out bacteria that can cause recurrent cavities. Since these restorations are sealed, the postoperative sensitivity is minimal to nonexistent. These fillings are reinforced with special materials that make them as strong as the missing tooth structure they replace. This makes for a long-lasting restoration.

Biomimetic procedures are billed in a similar manner as traditional dentistry. Because dental insurance companies do not have specific billing codes for biomimetic dentistry, we submit your claims based on traditional codes for the types of materials used as well as surfaces repaired during the restoration. This means that most biomimetic restorations are billed the same way as a white (ceramic) crown or filling.

No. In fact, over the long term it is far less expensive. No dental restoration lasts forever. When a traditional restoration fails both the restoration and the tooth are compromised, leading to costly tooth repair or replacement procedures. On the other hand, biomimetic restorations are easily repaired upon failure and are built so that the restoration fails not the tooth. Most require little or no anesthetic to repair. The minor cost associated with repairing a biomimetic restoration is more like that of a filling rather than that of a conventional crown, root canal, bridge or implant.

As a dentist, Dr. Ames feels strongly that you should have the best possible options to treat your mouth. Biomimetic dentistry is the only treatment she seeks for herself and performs for her family and friends, and the treatment she has incorporated into her practice in Greenlawn. Simply put, we believe it is better dentistry: better for your overall oral health, and better for each tooth.

Dr. Ames has taken hundreds of hours of continuing education in several areas of dentistry. By far, the most beneficial and far-reaching impact of all these CE courses has been that of biomimetic dentistry. Dr. Ames has performed traditional dentistry for more than eight years. Through this experience and study she has realized that traditional dentistry has several drawbacks that biomimetic dentistry resolves. She is very excited to offer this amazing dentistry to all of her patients.

In an ideal world, the best dentistry would be no need for dentistry. But since each of us experience some tooth problems sooner or later, the next best thing is to copy nature and repair your tooth the way nature would repair it: rebuilding it one layer at a time, cusp by cusp, removing only the compromised areas and providing correct and strong bonding techniques that provide the most natural result and seal out future infection. For these reasons, Dr. Ames believes Biomimetic Dentistry is THE best dentistry for you.

In the long term biomimetic procedures have proven to be more time efficient. This is because everything is performed in one visit, eliminating the need for the second visit common with traditional crowns. This is also due to the conservative nature of the technique, which eliminates 90 percent of root canals and other time consuming procedures that stem from the break down of conventional dental restorations.

However, the initial repair to your tooth is more time intensive than a traditional “crown preparation” or standard “pot-hole” filling. This is because Dr Ames takes the time to delicately reconstruct your tooth layer by layer using the most advanced techniques and adhesive materials that result in longer lasting restorations. This creates stronger teeth that are less prone to breaking or cracking and will need less work down the road, saving you time and money.

Dr. Ames is of the strong belief that early diagnosis and treatment result in better long-term health as well as less costly procedures and less discomfort down the road. That is why she suggests that if your old fillings start showing any signs of leakage or compromise, you get them replaced using biomimetic methods immediately.

Biomimetic dentistry significantly reduces, and in most cases eliminates, sensitivity commonly associated with traditional crowns and fillings. By being conservative and not removing vital tooth structure, we significantly decrease your tooth’s sensitivity. Properly sealing the remaining tooth structure during the rebuilding process also contributes to the considerable drop in sensitivity associated with biomimetic restorations. In fact, many of our patients report having no sensitivity at all, postoperatively.

Biomimetic dentistry treats weak, fractured, and decayed teeth in a way that keeps them strong and seals them from bacterial invasion. Careful sealing against infection removes the need for 60 to 90 percent of the crowns and root canals of conventional dentistry.

Based on reports from Dr. Ames’s current patients, the biggest difference you will notice between traditional treatments and our procedures is the lack of significant postoperative sensitivity with biomimetic restorations. Most of our patients report only one day of sensitivity versus the sensitivity they experienced for several weeks and even months following a traditional restoration. Another difference you will notice is the look and feel of your restored tooth. Our patients say their biomimetic dentistry feels identical to their own natural teeth and matches their teeth in shape, contour and function.

The biggest difference between biomimetic dentistry and traditional dentistry is the effect each has on the natural tooth structure. The best way to demonstrate this is by contrasting the life cycle of your teeth using conventional dental treatments versus biomimetic procedures:

Many of you have experienced the dental life cycle of a tooth treated with traditional dentistry (with some variables, of course):

Step 1: Disease/decay corrupts a natural tooth.

Step 2: A dentist removes the decay and extra healthy tooth structure in order to prepare the existing tooth for a traditional filling or a crown.

Step 3: After the procedure, your tooth remains sensitive for quite some time.

Step 4: A few months or years down the road, the sensitivity turns to occasional or constant pain.

Step 5: Your tooth then needs a root canal or at least a larger filling--which will eventually lead to a root canal.

Step 6: A crown (if you didn’t already have one) is placed on the remaining tooth.

Step 7: Cracks start appearing in your tooth. You experience tooth pain again and/or the crown falls off.

Step 8: Your root canal has failed and your tooth is decaying, yet again. If it is too compromised your tooth will be extracted.

Step 9: You now have an empty space where a natural tooth once existed. If you don’t take steps soon, you will experience tooth shifting and dramatic bite changes as existing teeth begin drifting into the open space.

Step 10: There are two options at this point: implant or bridge. If you don’t have an implant placed, two or more perfectly healthy teeth are shaved down to support a bridge. These teeth then become susceptible to experiencing the same life cycle of traditional dentistry.

With biomimetic dentistry, this disastrous cycle can be prevented. Biomimetic dentistry evaluates each tooth based on individual tooth needs. It takes a conservative approach. With Biomimetic dentistry, Dr. Ames makes the restoration fit the tooth, rather than amputating the tooth to fit the restoration. The result is a stronger, healthier tooth that reacts like your natural teeth to the normal grinding and wear in your mouth. In fact, the “life-cycle” of a biomimetic tooth looks more like this:

Step 1: Disease/decay corrupts a natural tooth

Step 2: Under the aid of extremely high-magnification optic lenses, Dr. Ames removes only the decayed and structurally compromised areas of your tooth.

Step 3: Dr. Ames starts bonding and rebuilding your existing tooth making it look like and function much more like your natural tooth originally did and sealing out the harmful bacteria that causes decay.

Step 4: You may experience 1-2 days of tooth sensitivity following the procedure.

Step 5: If your restoration wears or breaks, it does so in “controlled” areas without compromising your tooth.

Step 6: Dr. Ames can rebuild or repair your restoration without anesthetic.

The Favorable Financial Impact that biomimetic dentistry has is just as important as the details of how it is done. From a standpoint of impact on the cost savings, personally and as a public health measure, this is information that the likes of Dr. Oz and Oprah should be looking at and promoting.

Quoting from Carol Vander Stoep's book Mouth Matters, Chapter 13:

In a study conducted by Delta Dental: "...For patients who develop cavities in their molars between ages 7 and 12 and who entered the repair-replacement-repair cycle of traditional dentistry, each tooth cost more than $2,187 in services by age 79 per initial cavity [2003 dollars]. The lifetime costs increase when a (failing) tooth requires a root canal or extraction and replacement with a prosthetic tooth." "The true cost of a cavity. When a little hole becomes a 2,000 dollar money pit." Dent Today. 2004; Oct 23(10):70.

One group of dental practitioners has isolated a predictable process of restoring teeth to their biomechanical and physiological essence. It was first taught to me by Dr. David Alleman, who gathered research from around the world and put it into a system that could actually be used by practicing dentists. This restoration technique - a Biomimetic technique - has many unique features that differentiate it from typical silver or composite fillings. Biomimetic dentistry is a superior way of treating teeth. It also identifies fractures in teeth and seals those fissures so that future bacterial invasion is stopped.

The one measurable statistic in 10 practices who have converted their entire practice to this style of restoring teeth has measured up to a 75% reduction in root canal therapy.

About Root Canal Therapy:

At the center of every tooth is a hollow area that houses soft tissues, such as the nerve, blood vessels, and connective tissue. This hollow area contains a relatively wide space in the coronal portion of the tooth called the pulp chamber. These canals run through the center of the roots, similar to the way pencil lead runs through a pencil. The pulp receives nutrition through the blood vessels, and sensory nerves carry signals back to the brain.

When decay has advanced to the point where this dental pulp becomes infected, often times the damage is irreversible. A tooth can be relieved from pain if there is such damage to the pulp. We call this root canal treatment. But while it treats pain and infection, it is an invasive procedure which requires the removal of some healthy tooth structure, usually requires the need for a crown and actually contributes to early tooth loss.

Biomimetic dentistry addresses this by treating teeth using new techniques and advanced materials that are superior to the materials and techniques still being used today but were defined more than 100 years ago. Since most of the dentistry done today is repairing previous restorations, the biomimetic technique prevents the bacterial invasion from reinfecting the treated tooth. If the pulp (the brain and the heart) of the tooth can be preserved and not invaded, the teeth treated with such a method not only survive, but they thrive.

Doing The Math:

One root canal can cost anywhere from $800 to $1500. An average baby boomer with standard care has an average of 3 root canals in their lifetime. If you do the math for one practice using sample data from 10 practices who have witnessed and documented just a 60% reduction in root canal therapy as a result of this process, you can see the numbers:

Avg # of Patients Per Practice 1500
Baby Boomers (45% of the Practice) 675
Avg Cost per Root Canal $800
Number of Root Canals Expected 3
Total Expense to Patients $1,620,000
Reduction in Root Canals 60%
Lifetime Savings $972,000

That's a lot of reduction! Therefore, what could be the possible incentive to create a professional movement to push dentist's to learn this technique when in only 1 practice there will be an expected lifetime loss in revenue of almost a million dollars?

"Doing the right thing" is my incentive. But it's more:

  • That loss in revenue is also savings to patients.
  • It promotes better oral health and patient confidence.
  • Treating the young means that they will likely never need 3 root canals like their parents did.
  • It takes silver/mercury amalgams out of the equation.
  • The dental industry itself will see less need for complicated, expensive and time consuming treatments.
  • And as the word gets out, biomimetic dentists will have a waiting list, which translates to more patients.

Biomimetic dentistry is tooth conserving dentistry. Biomimetic dentistry treats weak, fractured, and decayed teeth in a way that keeps them strong and seals them from bacterial invasion. It reduces cutting teeth down for crowns and root canal treatments. In essence, it is utilizing the latest in dental materials and technology to preserve what we've got, for as long as we've got - just as nature intended.

Unlike other parts of our bodies, our teeth do not mend on their own. It is therefore important to conserve as much natural tooth structure as possible. We strive to do this by offering no prep and minimal prep veneers and Inlay/Onlays rather than full crowns. This means no excessive tooth removal, no cumbersome temporaries.

Biomimetic means to copy or mimic nature.

Nature is our ideal model. In order to mimic nature, we must understand what nature looks and feels like. We need to know how it moves and functions. In other words, we study nature's properties so that we can better duplicate it. We want stronger dental units - teeth and restorations - not just stronger crowns. Now it is possible to rebuild teeth with newer materials and techniques that more closely simulate natural teeth and hold up better to the hearty demands of life. Our patients can testify that biomimetic restorations feel and look much better than traditional dental restorations.

Biomimetic dentistry is conservative.

Modern adhesives and bonding techniques are the driving force of biomimetic dentistry. With traditional dentistry, healthy tooth structure is destroyed and/or removed in order to retain a new restoration. By using advanced adhesive techniques and properly fashioned inlays and onlays, dentists can help save their patients' teeth, time and money. We can say that preservation and conservation lie at the heart of biomimetic dentistry. It is a win-win situation for everyone.