If you have never heard of air abrasion dentistry, then the term might sound a little scary. Many patients say it makes them think of something they might have done to their car instead of their mouth! In reality, air abrasion is an increasingly common and popular method of removing early tooth decay without having to employ a dental drill, and that makes it an extremely interesting topic for many dental patients.
Here are three things you should know about air abrasion dentistry before your next appointment:
Air abrasion involves using a spray machine that sprays small particles of sand at a tooth in order to blast away decayed areas causing cavities. This enables the dentist to save more of your tooth than would be possible with drilling. Air abrasion is also much faster than drilling. How can you go wrong with something that does a better cleaning, saves you time, and doesn’t hurt? We think you can’t, which is why we offer air abrasion at Pat Crawford’s dental practice in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
If you have ever seen a video of someone having air abrasion done on one of their teeth, you might have found the set-up a little, well, unsettling. This is because patients must wear safety goggles and a protective barrier of either rubber or resin on their gums and other areas of the mouth that are not being treated so that the sand only hits the parts that need attention. Although the outfit may look a little bit intimidating, the results speak for themselves. Air abrasion does not hurt, making it ideal for patients who are already nervous around the dentist and for children.
Because air abrasion treatments are less likely to result in nasty side effects like fractured or chipped teeth, fillings are likely to last longer than those associated with traditional drilling. While traditional drilling creates uncomfortable sensations in your mouth like heat, pressure, and vibration, air abrasion tends to be far less unpleasant and is also less likely to stress the tooth that is being repaired.
Of course, not every cavity will be a good fit for this type of treatment just as not every cavity is a good fit for traditional drilling. If you have deep cavities close to the “pulp” of your tooth or located in between your teeth, you might still need to have them repaired using traditional drilling methods. Air abrasion also may not cut through hard enamel, so sometimes dentists start out with a drill but then do the “finer” work of removing the decayed portion of the tooth with air abrasion. Either way, it will be an easy question to ask your dentist if you have a filling scheduled for your next visit. Air abrasion could be the key to a faster, less painful, longer-lasting treatment and recovery.
Dr. Pat Crawford offers air abrasion dentistry at his dental practice in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Learn more at PatCrawfordDDS.com.