What is Air-Abrasion Micro Dentistry?
Air abrasion is a drill-less technique that is used to remove tooth decay and for other applications. The technique generally allows for the removal of decay without anesthetic on the microscopic level, preserving the surrounding healthy tooth structure.
How Does Air Abrasion Work?
An instrument that works like a mini sandblaster is used to spray away decay. During air abrasion, a fine stream of particles is aimed at the decayed portion of the tooth. These particles are made of silica, aluminum oxide, or a baking soda mixture and are propelled toward the tooth surface by compressed air or a gas that runs through the dental handpiece. Small particles of decay on the tooth surface are removed as the stream of particles strikes them. The particles of decay are then “suctioned” away.
Is Air Abrasion Safe?
Yes. The only precautions needed before air abrasion are protective eye wear (to prevent eye irritation from the spray) or protective resin applied to nearby teeth and gums to protect areas of the mouth that aren’t being treated.
What are the Advantages of Air Abrasion?
Compared with the traditional drilling method, the advantages of air abrasion are many and include the following:
- Combined with early diagnosis, Air-Abrasion allows the dentist to detect decay at the earliest stages and restore teeth with a minimum loss of healthy tooth structure.
- Air abrasion generates no heat, sound, pressure or vibration.
- Air abrasion reduces the need for anesthesia, particularly if the cavity is shallow.
- Air abrasion leaves much more of the healthy tooth tissue behind.
- Air abrasion leaves the working area relatively dry, which is an advantage during the placement of composite fillings.
- Air abrasion reduces the risk of microfracturing and chipping of the tooth, which some experts believe can lead to premature restorative failures.
- Air abrasion allows the dentist to treat multiple sites in the mouth during a single visit.
- The procedure is relatively simple and quick.
- Tooth colored Composite and Glass Ionomer filling materials can be used following air abrasion because these materials “bond” or adhere well to the smooth surface.
- Most shots and certainly general anesthesia is unneeded, in our popinion and experience, if the dentist understands and can apply “Minimally Invasive techniques.
What are the Disadvantages?
Air abrasion is not necessarily totally painless. The air can cause sensitivity and so can the abrasives used when deep cavities (those close to the tooth’s pulp) are encountered. Regardless, it is suited for identifying and removing decay that form early on the surface of teeth or in assisting in identifying and removing deep decay in all procedures.
Who are the Best Candidates for Air Abrasion Procedures?
- Anybody with teeth in need for repair can benefit from the benefits of Air-Abrasion.
- Air abrasion is ideal for use in children, and when combined with other gentle techniques, Air-Abrasion helps to avoid creating “fear of the dentist” commonly associated with the giving of shots in the mouth.
- Anyone wanting to avoid the indiscriminate destruction associated with traditional “drill, fill, and bill” dentistry.
What Other Types of Procedures are Performed With Air Abrasion?
Air abrasion can also be used to:
- Remove some old composite restorations, but not metallic restorations such as silver amalgam fillings
- Prepare a tooth surface for bonding.
- Remove superficial stains and tooth discolorations