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Dreaded Dental Drill to be Replaced by Painless Plasma Jets

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Dreaded Dental Drill to be Replaced by Painless Plasma Jets

January 25, 2010

By Stephanie Lachapelle for Dental1

Scared of the pain associated with dental drilling? New plasma jet drilling technology may painlessly remove infected dental tissue and quell your fear of the dreaded dentist’s chair.

We’ve all been subjected to the intense pain that comes with the treatment for dental cavities—but the days of dental pain may be over. Presently dentists rely on the well-known dental drill to chip away at decayed dentin, the tooth structure beneath the enamel. This tool is essentially a high-speed drill that uses specialized steel drill bits called dental burs that contain tiny blades to cut away at infected tissue. The patient experiences pain as the drill bit chips at dental tissue closer to the tooth pulp, the complex matrix of nerves and blood vessels inside a tooth. The shrill noise emitted from this handheld drill and the pain associated with this method of dental drilling scare many away from seeking treatment for cavities. Which often leads to further decay.

New plasma jet technology may be the solution to this problem. The Journal of Medical Microbiology recently reported that a group of researchers found that firing low-temperature plasma beams at dentin reduced the amount of several bacterial species responsible for causing tooth decay by up to 10,000-fold.

In this study, researchers fired plasma beams—jets of gas treated with microwaves at low temperature—at samples of dentin treated with common dental bacteria for several seconds. They found that the longer the dentin was exposed to the plasma beam, the more bacteria that was eliminated.

Although plasma jet treatment for dental cavities may not become available for several years, this study shows promise to revolutionize dental treatment. Advantages to this new treatment include less pain and easier plaque removal—leading to an overall increase in dental health. This is great news for the 90% of the population plagued by dental cavities.

Read more on HealthDay

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