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Dental Drills vs. Air Abrasion

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  Air abrasion instruments work like a mini sandblaster to remove decay from teeth. In addition, they can be used to prepare teeth for dental sealants, dental bonding, and can remove old composite resin fillings.


Air abrasion instruments have proven to be safe when used with a few safety measures:

  • Goggles to prevent eye irritation

  • Rubber dam to protect surrounding teeth from the abrasive particles

  • Particle suction to prevent particles from being breathed into the lung.


When compared with traditional drills, there are several advantages. Air abrasion:

  • Generates no heat, sound, pressure, or vibration

  • Reduces or eliminates the need for anesthesia, especially on shallow cavities

  • Leaves more healthy tissue behind than standard drills

  • Leaves the area relatively dry, which is an advantage when using composite fillings

  • Reduces the risk of cracking and chipping of the tooth, affecting the lifespan of a tooth

  • Allows treatment of multiple sites in the mouth during a single visit

  • Is relatively simple and quick.


Some things to be aware of when considering an air abrasion tool for the office:

  • While eliminating pain, the air and particles can cause sensitivity during the procedure

  • It is not recommended for deep cavities or work near the tooth's pulp.

  • Only composite materials can be used to fill following air abrasion. Amalgam and silver fillings still require a standard drill to prevent the filling from falling out.

As with all new dental products, you will want to check with each patient's insurance to see if the procedure is covered.

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