Let’s face it, even people who don’t mind attending their bi-annual check-up with the dentist feel a shiver when they hear the dental drill start up. And if you do have a fear of the dentist, knowing you face a session with the drill can feel like torture. Unfortunately, it is an essential tool for many of the most important dental procedures, but a new innovation could mean the end of drilling when you need a filling.
Drill-free dentistry is one of the latest developments to come from the US, where many clinics are already using it on their patients. Instead of having to suffer through painful injections and uncomfortable drilling sessions, these patients are having their teeth fixed, just as effectively, using the power of air.
Of course, there is more to it than that. The machines used fire a high-powered blast of air mixed with particles of aluminium oxide, which is found in many toothpastes. This can cut out the decayed part of the tooth much more effectively and cleanly than the more random and less easily controlled drill – and many patients find it so comfortable that they don’t even need an anaesthetic!
The air abrasion technique isn’t just useful for preparing teeth for fillings either. It is also being used for stain removal and in preparation for many cosmetic procedures, as well as fixing chipped or cracked teeth. If the decay is too widespread or hidden in a tight gap between two teeth, then it’s not always possible to ditch the drill in favour of this more pleasant method, but in the vast majority of cases dental clinics fitted with the air abrasion machine can make their patients much more comfortable while they undergo what used to be uncomfortable procedures.
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