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The term esthetic dentistry usually conjures up mental images of porcelain crowns and veneers. To some dentists, the term minimally invasive dentistry evokes thoughts of observing early lesions, and postponing treatment until lesions are closer to the pulp. (The World Congress of Minimally Invasive Dentistry defines minimally invasive dentistry as those techniques which respect health, function, and esthetics of oral tissue by preventing disease from occurring, or intercepting its progress with minimal tissue loss.) It would seem these two niches within dentistry are on opposite ends of the spectrum; however, composite resin and glass ionomer restorative materials unite these two ideologies. Understanding the limitations, benefits, and science behind each material allows clinicians to produce highly esthetic restorations that can resist future decay, internally remineralize the tooth, and help protect adjacent teeth from cariogenic attack.
The author reports no conflicts of interest associated with this work.