Dental health is one of the most important facets of maintaining overall wellness, yet so many people refuse to go to the dentist out of fear. Bad memories or painful associations with the crisp whine of the dental drill send many adults running for the hills. Now there is a new way of cleaning cavities that is less destructive to the tooth, quieter, and less painful: air abrasion.
What is it?
Air abrasion (also known as ‘kinetic cavity preparation’) is essentially a mini-sandblaster in the hands of your dentist. The handpiece uses forced air to propel tiny particles of aluminum oxide to the tooth. These particles abrade the decayed enamel and then a thin tube suctions them away.
One of the key advantages to air abrasion is that if the cavity is only on the surface then there may be no need for anesthesia. It also reduces chipping or fracturing of the tooth and thus can leave more of the healthy enamel behind. Perhaps best of all, air abrasion does not produce the unpleasant vibrations or pressure associated with traditional drilling.
Are there Disadvantages?
There are some small disadvantages to air abrasion. Its use is limited when you have a deeper cavity. Because it doesn’t abrade healthy enamel well, your dentist still has to drill to access the cavity. However, once the access path is clear, air abrasion can be used. Most dental work preparation cannot be done with air abrasion either. This includes crowns and in/onlays.
Air abrasion technology has been around since the 1950s, but it hasn’t been until recent innovations that it has really caught on. Now that technology has caught up with inventiveness, there is no reason for anyone to avoid going to their dentist out of fear of drilling.