Drill-Less Dentistry

Air abrasion is a new micro-dentistry technique that is used to treat tooth decay and prepare teeth for restorations and sealants.  Traditionally, dentists used noisy dental drills to remove decay and prepare the teeth for fillings, but air abrasion has proven to be a noiseless, heatless, minimally invasive alternative.  Air abrasion is similar to sandblasting, in that water and tiny particles are propelled toward small areas of decay to remove them.  A white bonded filling or sealant is then applied to seal the tooth from further harm.

An anesthetic is not usually required for this procedure, which means the we can treat multiple teeth in a single appointment.  The goal of air abrasion is to pinpoint and remove early areas of decay, while preserving more of the natural tooth.  The combination of air abrasion and composite resin fillings quickly and comfortably restores functionality and strength to the teeth.

Here are some of the main advantages associated with air abrasion:

  • More of the natural tooth is left untouched.
  • No need for anesthesia in most cases.
  • No vibrations, horrible noises or excessive pressure.
  • Quicker, easier procedures.
  • Reduced risk of further damage to the teeth (chipping and fractures).
  • Teeth are left dry, which is advantageous for filling placement.
  • Easily and safely removes stain and plaque.
  • Prepares the tooth structure for a better bond.

Who can benefit from air abrasion?

The best candidates for air abrasion are patients who are fearful of the dental drill, children, and individuals with minimal dental decay.  Regular dental check ups help diagnose cavities which may be forming on the surfaces of the teeth.  Spotting cavities early with trans-illumination or the Diagnodent laser increases the chances that the air abrasion treatment can be utilized.

Air abrasion can be used in instances other than tooth decay, including the removal of existing composite fillings, the preparation of teeth for sealants and the removal of surface stains on teeth.  Amalgam (mercury metal or silver fillings) cannot be used in conjunction with air abrasion because the procedure leaves the teeth too smooth for metal fillings to properly lock in.  Therefore, only composite fillings or sealants can be applied following air abrasion.

What is involved with the air abrasion procedure?

The Isolite isolating system will be used to relax the jaw, protect the cheeks and tongue, and keep the area free of saliva.  Under specialized lighting and magnification, the teeth will be sprayed with water and particles including aluminum oxide and silica.  Jets of compressed air, delivered through a dental hand-piece, provide enough force for the particles to remove the decay.  The water, particles and decay will be eliminated from the mouth with a suction device.

We will use a special red chemical dye to ensure that all traces of decay are gone.  An conditioning solution will then be applied to the affected areas to roughen the surface enough for the white bonded filling to be placed successfully.  The composite filling will be hardened using specialized lights, then polished to make it look completely natural.

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We encourage you to contact us with any questions or comments you may have. Please call our office at (507) 625-2273 or use the quick contact form below.


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