The future is here! No drill, no needle dentistry!
While no one ever wants to hear that they have a cavity, the good news is that we live in the modern age of dentistry and having a cavity removed no longer has to involve drills or needles. Utilizing a technique much like sandblasting, Dr. Omeltschenko can use Air Abrasion dentistry to blast away decay and then fill the remaining whole with a tooth-colored resin filling.
Air abrasion dentistry does not cause significant pain to the tooth, so patients do not need to get numb. This means you don’t have to get stuck with a needle or walk around worrying if you’re dribbling out of the side of you mouth because you’re numb. It also translates to a shorter dental visit since you don’t have the extra time waiting for the numbing to take effect.
Air abrasion dentistry does have some limitations in that it is best for small cavities and can not be used on large areas of decay or to remove existing fillings.
What Is Air Abrasion?
Air abrasion, also called “microabrasion”, is a method of tooth structure removal considered to be an effective alternative to the standard dental drill.
It is most commonly used in the treatment of dental carries (i.e. cavities.) Specifically, an air abrasion handpiece is used to remove decay from a tooth in order for the tooth to be restored with a filling. Air abrasion also can be effectively used to repair cracks, discoloration on teeth and to prepare tooth surfaces for bonding procedures.
How Does Air Abrasion Work?
Air abrasion technology functions much like the sandblasting technique used to clear graffiti from walls. A dentist uses an air abrasion handpiece to blow a powerful air stream of tiny, fine aluminum oxide particles onto the decayed area of a tooth to literally blast away the decay.
What Are The Benefits Of An Air Abrasion Handpiece Over The Standard Dental Drill?
- Air abrasion procedures are virtually painless and in most cases injections of anesthetic are not required. This means no painful needles are necessary and patients do not have to deal with the embarrassing task of trying to eat or talk with a numb mouth for hours after the procedure is completed.
- Restoring a decayed tooth using an air abrasion handpiece rather than a drill cuts the time of the procedure. No anesthetic is used, therefore there is no down time waiting for numbness to take affect.
- Unlike a drill, air abrasion systems produce no vibration and no heat from friction. The vibration and heat from a drill are what cause pain during a typical dental filling and why anesthetic is needed when using a drill.
- The air abrasion handpiece operates very quietly.
- An air abrasion handpiece can preserve more of the tooth’s structure because it cuts tooth surfaces with the utmost precision.
What Will A Patient Experience During The Procedure?
An air abrasion handpiece makes quick work of clearing decay out of a tooth. The procedure, from cleaning out the decay to restoring the tooth with a filling, can be performed in under 30 minutes. During the decay removal, the air abrasion handpiece will leave an accumulation of harmless, dusty particle debris in a patient’s mouth, resulting in a gritty feeling that is eradicated by rinsing. Patients may be required to wear protective eyewear during the procedure. To reduce dust buildup, a dental assistant may use a vacuum hose or a water spray technique while utilizing the air abrasion handpiece.
Is Air Abrasion Suitable For Everyone?
Yes. It is an especially good option for children who may be afraid of being injected with a needle, and/or frightened by the noise and vibration of a regular dental drill. However, air abrasion can’t be used as an alternative in every procedure. Some treatments, such as large fillings, crowns, and bridges still require the use of a dental drill.