Air Abrasion

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

An anesthetic is not usually required for this procedure, which means the dentist 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 white composite 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).
  • Tooth surface is microscopically enhanced to clean and prepare the tooth for the final white composite restoration.

Who can benefit from air abrasion?

As with many dental procedures, air abrasion is not necessarily suitable for every person.  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 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, repair of chipped enamel surfaces, preparation of teeth for sealants and the removal of surface stains on teeth.   Air abrasion can not be used for the removal of silver amalgam fillings or crowns.  

What is involved with the air abrasion procedure?

Initially, Dr. Smith will thoroughly examine the teeth and assess whether the air abrasion technique is going to be the most effective option.  Once this has been decided, the procedure can be scheduled.

First,  cotton rolls will be used to isolate the tongue, lips, and cheeks from the teeth undergoing air abrasion.  Under specialized lighting  the teeth will be sprayed with very fine "sand-like" particles.  Jets of compressed air, delivered through a dental hand-piece, provide enough force for the particles to remove the decay and/or chipped enamel.  The waste will be eliminated from the mouth with a suction device.

Dr. Smith will use a special chemical dye to ensure that all traces of decay are gone.  A conditioning  solution will then be applied to the affected areas to prepare the surface and then a bonding agent for the filling to be placed successfully.  The composite filling will be hardened using a specialized LED light, then trimmed and polished to make it look completely natural.

If you have questions about the air abrasion process, please contact our office.