Air abrasion is a drill-less technique that is being used by some dentists to remove tooth decay and for other applications.
During air abrasion, 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.
Yes, air abrasion is safe. The only precautions needed before air abrasion are protective eye wear (to prevent eye irritation from the spray) and the use of a rubber dam (a rubber sheet that fits around teeth) or protective resin applied to nearby teeth and gums to protect areas of the mouth that aren't being treated. The suctioning of particles also prevents them from being breathed into the lungs.
Compared with the traditional drilling method, the advantages of air abrasion are many and include the following:
Air abrasion is ideal for use in children and others who are fearful and have minimal decay.
Air abrasion can also be used to: