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Dentistry’s ‘porcelain period’ and its politics

Written by
15th January 2014

A conservative with a small “c” is someone who doesn’t favour change. This is certainly true when the word is applied in dentistry. A conservative dentist is a clinician who favours retaining as much of the patient’s tooth enamel as possible.

Full-scale mouth makeovers
There have always been conservative dentists, but in the 1980s and 90s they appeared to be outnumbered by the dentists who moved into the full-scale makeover of the mouth, applying costly veneers or crowns to any teeth which were chipped, angled or deformed in any way. The profession’s ‘porcelain period.’ It involved the wholesale destruction of layers of enamel which, once removed, could never be replaced. Over the years, these veneers and crowns are likely to need replacing or improving, making the loss of the tooth enamel costly for patients, in all senses.

Conservative dentistry
There has been an outcry against the approach, fostered by the advent of new materials and Martin Kelleher’s invective against ‘Porcelain Pornography.’
I’m glad to say that this means more patients are being referred for orthodontic treatment so their teeth are straightened before being more minimally repaired with while filling material. This is conservative dentistry with a small “c” and is definitely a movement I am happy to vote for!


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