When asked what makes them feel uncomfortable about their dentist’s office, many patients report that the sound of the dental drill is one of their biggest fears. The process of having a tooth drilled can be uncomfortable, even with a local anesthetic. Our office is proud to announce that we offer air abrasion as an alternative to dental drilling for our patients.
What is air abrasion?
The air abrasion instrument looks a little bit like a small sandblaster. This tool uses a small, tightly focused stream of particles to strip away any areas of tooth decay. It can also be used to create a small hole in the tooth in the same way a traditional dental drill would. The stream of particles is created with a mix of baking soda, silica, and aluminum oxide that is propelled using compressed air. A small, thin tube provides suction to remove the particles and pieces of tooth.
Is air abrasion a safe procedure?
Air abrasion is completely safe and will usually be far more comfortable than the dental drill. Our dentist will give you special glasses that will protect your eyes from irritation and a rubber dam or dental resin will be used to protect the surrounding teeth and gums. The tool provides immediate suction of the particles and tooth matter which keeps you from breathing in any of these materials.
Why air abrasion?
There are many advantages to using air abrasion over traditional dental drills. For example, air abrasion does not generate the vibration or pressure that many patients complain of when undergoing a procedure in their dentist’s office. Air abrasion can also be used on shallow cavities without the need for anesthesia. The process also allows our dentist to leave more of the healthy tooth matter intact than would be possible with traditional dental drilling.
When having a composite filling placed, air abrasion leaves the tooth almost completely dry. This means that you will spend less time waiting for the tooth to dry before the composite filling can be applied. In addition, the air abrasion is more gentle than traditional dental drills, allowing our dentist to fill multiple cavities in a single visit.
Because air abrasion does not cause the pressure or vibration that a traditional dental drill does, it is considered by many to be a far safer option. There is less chance that your tooth might become chipped or broken during the process, and helps to ensure that your filling will last as long as possible.
Are there any disadvantages to air abrasion?
In some patients, air abrasion may cause the teeth to become slightly more sensitive following the visit to our office for a procedure. This is due to the mix of abrasive particles and the use of compressed air. Additionally, air abrasion is usually not suitable for larger cavities, as it can damage the exposed tooth pulp, causing additional damage. It is best suited for smaller cavities. The process can only be used when a composite filling is going to be placed. Because it leaves behind a very smooth surface, traditional amalgam fillings will not stick properly when air abrasion is used.
Am I a good candidate for air abrasion dentistry?
If you have a smaller cavity, and are somewhat fearful of the dental drill, air abrasion can be an excellent alternative. It is also often used with younger patients and children to ensure that the relationship they develop with their dentist is free from fear and healthy.
What other procedures can be performed with air abrasion?
Air abrasion can be used to perform a variety of functions in our office, including:
- Removing old composite restorations that need to be replaced
- Preparing teeth for dental sealants or dental bonding materials
- Removing tooth stains and tooth discoloration
If you have more questions about air abrasion or any other procedure offered in our office, or if you would like to know if you might be a good candidate for air abrasion dentistry, contact our office today for a consultation. We will be happy to answer any questions that you may have, and we look forward to ensuring that you have a comfortable, fear-free appointment and healthy, beautiful smile.