Air Abrasion Unit

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One only has to experience the dental drill and its awful vibration and sound to dread going to a dentist, and children too, who often ape the adults around them, tend to be scared of the drill-wielding man in white coat. Thankfully, it no longer has to be this way what with the modern dental air abrasion units which remove tooth decay and prepare cavities for receiving filling in a gentle, yet effective manner. Air abrasion units, in combination with the advances in adhesion dentistry, has made the task more agreeable for the dentists and the patients.

How does it work?

Air abrasion refers to a semi-mechanical, non-rotary method used to cut and remove dental hard tissue. It is like a miniature intra-oral sand blaster producing closely, and perfectly aligned stream of air and abrasive particles which efficiently removes tooth decay and structure.

The Unit

The air abrasion units, or intraoral abrasion units, are offered by a number of manufacturers; however, the basic technology behind all of them remains the same. Some of the units have an additional water spray feature that enhances the patient comfort. Though both mechanical as well as digitally controlled devices are available, the digitally controlled devices release a more consistent and adequate stream resulting in lesser mess to be removed or washed from the patient’s mouth. The hand piece and nozzles are removable, and thus, can be easily sterilized. A variety of nozzles tip sizes and angles are provided with the unit.

Applications of Air Abrasion Units

  • Preparing the tooth for filling a Class I cavity.
  • Removing old composite restorations from the tooth.
  • Preparing tooth for sealants or bonding.
  • Removing superficial defects in tooth enamel.
  • Removal of pit and fissure surface stain and discolorations on tooth enamel before restoration or placing of veneers.
  • Detecting pit and fissure caries.

Advantages of Air Abrasion Units

  • No noise, burning odor, vibration, heat, or pressure as in the case of a dental drill, making it more comfortable for patients, especially children.
  • No need for local anesthesia.
  • Removes decay more efficiently and leaves most of the healthy tissues intact.
  • No risk of micro-fracturing of the tooth; usually associated with drilling.
  • Leaves the area relatively drier, resulting in better bonding of fillings and sealants.
  • Increases the success rate of bonded orthodontic brackets.

Disadvantages of Air Abration Units

  • The dentist must be careful while using the hand piece as the aluminum oxide particles may hit the patient’s gum and cause discomfort.
  • They cannot be used for deep cavities touching the tooth pulp.

These units are unable to remove large amalgam restorations or removing full coverage restorations efficiently. Also, such abrading may result in releasing four times more mercury than recommended.

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