What Is Air Abrasion Dentistry?

Jami Yontz

Air abrasion dentistry is a type of dentistry that uses a drill-less tool to remove portions of a tooth or clean away decay. This type of tool has become popular with dentists as an alternative to the normal drill that is powered by air pressure. Many people have a severe fear associated with the shrill sound produced by the dentist’s drill, and the air abrasion tool can be a solution for those with this problem that need certain types of dental work.

People who fear the sound of a dentist's drill may appreciate air abrasion dentistry.
People who fear the sound of a dentist's drill may appreciate air abrasion dentistry.

An air abrasion dentistry tool sprays thousands of small particles made of aluminum oxide, silica, and other materials. This type of tool is powered by compressed air or gas, which blasts the small particles against the tooth surface. The materials will remove the area of decay in the tooth, allowing the dentist to fill the cavity with synthetic resins. Deep cavities that are near the root of the tooth should not be treated with no drill dentistry, and the tooth cannot be restored with amalgam fillings. Air abrasion dentistry is also effective at removing stains and exposing cavities and decay beneath fluoride covering the teeth.

Air abrasion dentistry has become popular as an alternative to the traditional drill.
Air abrasion dentistry has become popular as an alternative to the traditional drill.

Drill-less dentistry usually takes less time than traditional dentistry techniques, and the dentist is able to work on several problem areas of the mouth in one session. The tool does not produce the grating noise of traditional dental drills that cause some people to have anxiety. This type of procedure does not cause the tooth to become hot or vibrate, both of which are experienced under the pressure of the normal high speed air turbine or drill dentistry equipment, and there is no need for water to be funneled into the mouth during the procedure. The person may have a grit-like substance in their mouth following the procedure. Protective eye wear should still be worn during the procedure, and the dentist will insert protective material over other teeth and the gums to protect them from the spray.

People who are interested in air abrasion dentistry should consult a dentist.
People who are interested in air abrasion dentistry should consult a dentist.

There is usually no pain experienced during air abrasion dentistry, so most patients do not require the application or injection of an anesthetic. Those who are fearful of needles will experience less discomfort during this type of dental procedure. There is also less risk of fracturing the tooth during the removal of the cavity.

Air abrasion may require the used of cheek retractors in order to protect lips and allow the dentist better access during the procedure.
Air abrasion may require the used of cheek retractors in order to protect lips and allow the dentist better access during the procedure.

This type of dentistry does have some problems associated with it. The person could have a reaction to the type of materials used to remove the decay, and it can be difficult for the dentist to gauge how much of the tooth is removed during the procedure. Air abrasion dentistry causes dust to be collected in the person’s mouth, which can bother some individuals. Persons interested in this procedure should consult a dentist.

Dentists typically learn how to use various tools while in dental school.
Dentists typically learn how to use various tools while in dental school.
Deep cavities that are near the root of the tooth should not be treated with no-drill dentistry.
Deep cavities that are near the root of the tooth should not be treated with no-drill dentistry.
Excessive consumption of sugary foods may result in cavities.
Excessive consumption of sugary foods may result in cavities.

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Discussion Comments

anon175644

So what are the tools called that use air abrasion so I know what to ask of the dentist's office when calling around to find my new dentist? My last dentist used this technology and I never want to go back to the "old-school", it was a world of difference compared to drills. But he has retired and moved.

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