Air Abrasion

Rare is the person who goes through life without a single cavity. (If you know any people this fortunate, we would love to meet them!) Of course, a cavity means a filling, and a filling means—you guessed it—a drill. Or maybe not. Today, we can use air abrasion to remove decay and portions of tooth structure to prepare your tooth for a filling. A cavity is the result of tooth decay, and tooth decay is caused by bacteria that live naturally in our mouths. If not removed with regular brushing and flossing, then bacteria can multiply. As they feed off of the sugars in many foods, they produce acids that erode tooth enamel. After a certain amount of erosion, a hole develops in your tooth and that’s a cavity. Before the cavity can be filled, we need to remove the decayed material that has accumulated, as well as some of your natural tooth structure in order to make room for the filling. Traditionally, this removal was performed by a small drill. You may be familiar with this device and the high-pitched noise and vibration it generates. Not exactly a favorite of our patients. Air abrasion, on the other hand, removes debris and tooth structure with minuscule bits if aluminum oxide or silica that are forcefully directed at your tooth. Imagine a small sandblaster, if you will. Similarly, air abrasion removes decayed material. We use compressed air to blast these particles at your cavity. As air abrasion is performed, we suction away the waste. Once this process is complete, we can go ahead and fill your cavity with a tooth-colored filling. The Advantages of Air Abrasion The most obvious advantage of air abrasion is that it is a much more pleasant way for us to remove decay than is a traditional drill. This process allows us to remove less of your original tooth structure. As conservative dentists, we prefer to retain as much natural tooth structure as possible. Doing so leaves you with a stronger and more durable tooth after the cavity is filled. In addition, because we remove less tooth structure with air abrasion, you may not require anesthesia for every cavity we treat. Surface cavities can often be prepared without a local anesthetic if we are using air abrasion. Of course, there are instances when a traditional drill is necessary, such as when we need to prepare your tooth for a porcelain crown, treating a cavity that is deep inside a tooth or when performing a root canal treatment. Otherwise, air abrasion may be the ideal solution for preparing your tooth for dental treatment. Source: Best Dentist News Biofilm Communities Teach us About Individualized Care Most of the historical treatment of gum disease and other bacterial infections has been based on viewing individual bacteria cultures, and treating with antibiotics. What this research and treatment fails to take into account is that free floating single bacteria lead to acute illnesses, but do not typically cause wounds and chronic infections. Bacteria that combine to form protective biofilms are the cause of tooth decay, gum disease, and other chronic illnesses. Plaque buildup in the mouth is one specific form of biofilm that creates wounds that lead to periodontal disease. When gum disease is treated with generic antibiotics not only is this treatment less effective, it can also be detrimental to health as bacteria build stronger resistance to antibiotics. The solution? Personalized treatment. As every biofilm is made up of a unique combination of bacteria and other materials, cases of periodontal infection should receive unique care to remove and prevent future plaque buildup. There should never be a one-size-fits-all approach to dental care, and that goes for plaque wounds and infections. Periodontal Disease Provides Lessons on Multidisciplinarity Plaque builds strong defensive systems because more than 500 types of bacteria work together to fortify and protect the colony. Each type of bacteria has its own defensive system, and the more types of bacteria work together, the harder they are to remove. Dentists could learn a lesson from this defensive system. It’s time to break down the silos of medical care, and start working with dental specialist and other medical practitioners to better understand not just how to treat gum disease, but how to protect against it in the first place. Every field of dental and medical care has its own defenses against and treatments for infection, and there is much to be learned by sharing knowledge. Treatment Changes & Community Building Dr. Randy Wolcott, a wound care researcher, discovered that many patients treated for infection would relapse. Antibiotics or other therapies removed the initial disease, but did little to treat damaged tissue or prevent future infection. The future of periodontal therapy should take into consideration not only the removal of plaque and bacteria, but actually healing the wounds and preventing recontamination. Most patients who suffer from gum disease relapse numerous times necessitating additional treatment. With the dental community’s shift in focus to preventive care, it makes sense to include treatments to prevent gum disease. Some of the many treatments that protect against future infection include: the application of liquid medications with dental trays worn at home, ozone therapy (shown to improve tissue healing and prevent future infection), and more traditional root planing. Going Forward The lessons learned from this surprising source are beneficial for any practice and any dental health concern. It’s time to start taking into consideration unique needs, shared knowledge, and ongoing prevention every time we care for patients.

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