Interview: “Minimally invasive dentistry is the better dentistry”
On 20 June, GC Europe will be holding its first international congress on minimum intervention (MI) dentistry. As an introduction, German-based dentist Dr Elmar Reich, who has run his own dental practice since 2004, will give a presentation about the congress topic. Prior to the event, Reich spoke with Dental Tribune International about the philosophy behind the concept and how this approach can be better implemented in dental education.
Dr Reich, could you explain the philosophy behind MI dentistry?
In MI dentistry, we do not solely look for cavities in patients’ teeth, but also diagnose risk factors for intra-oral diseases. For long-term success it is important to design a risk-based preventive treatment concept for every patient. After the preventive and restorative treatment, the patient is included in a maintenance programme and recalled according to his or her risk. This concept evolved approximately 20 years ago from preventive dentistry and the results of long-term maintenance with periodontal patients.
What has been your motivation for focusing on minimally invasive dentistry in your practice?
Minimally invasive dentistry is the better dentistry, because we are diagnosing and evaluating the patient’s response to risk factors and are not only looking for technical information like location and size of a cavity. My philosophy is “teeth for life” for my patients. In order to be successful we need to use this MI or medical approach of diagnosis, risk assessment, preventive treatment and follow-up maintenance.
“Because many treatments are less invasive, they cause less discomfort to our patients”
What advantages does minimally invasive dentistry hold for patients?
The MI approach will reduce invasive treatment time for our patients. Thus in the long run, it should be less costly for the patient and fewer prosthetic treatments should be necessary. Because many treatments are less invasive, they cause less discomfort to our patients.
Which minimally invasive methods are available to dentists today?
There are some minimally invasive adhesive techniques in restorative dentistry as well as less-invasive techniques in periodontics and orthodontics with splints and without the application of orthodontic bands. However, these procedures are modifications of existing techniques. The minimally invasive dentistry we are talking about is a treatment concept and not a restorative technique. It requires advanced diagnosis, risk assessment, risk-based preventive treatment and follow-up maintenance, therefore involving the whole practice team, including dental assistants, dental hygienists and dentists.
Dental education across the world is still very much oriented towards restorative dentistry. How could this be addressed?
There are many scientific initiatives from renowned organisations like FDI World Dental Federation and the International Association for Dental Research. However, university curricula are still following old departmental structures where prevention and treatment planning is taught without following MI principles. We want to inform dentists in practices and universities about the MI approach because I think we can show them the advantages of this technique both for the patient and for the practice.
Editorial note: Dr Elmar Reich’s webinar, titled “The successful minimal invasive dentistry (MI) practice”, will be broadcast live on 20 June at 10:00 a.m. CEST. Participants will be able to earn a continuing education credit by answering a questionnaire after the lecture. Dental professionals who would like to join the webinar may register at the GC Europe Campus.