Air abrasion is a new dental technology that allows cosmetic dentists and general dentistry practitioners to remove the smallest possible amount of tooth structure. This minimizes loss of enamel and dentin. It also enables dental professionals to better place stronger, more natural looking cosmetic tooth restorations in a very short amount of time. Air abrasion, in this sense, is both a tooth saver and a time saver.
During the 19th and 20th centuries, general dentistry relied primarily on manually operated tools. The traditional dental handpiece, which is actually still used extensively in general dentistry practice, has long been the mainstay tool for probing teeth for pockets of decay and removing tartar and decay from teeth. However, the disadvantage to using this device is that it removes a considerable amount of tooth surface area. In recent years, dental science began to look for new methods to detect cavities that were less invasive to tooth structures. Air abrasion was developed as a new technology which allows for a minimum of tooth damage combined with the maximum possibility of tooth decay removal.
The key to the success of air abrasion is its ability to remove decay on teeth without even touching them.
The process works by means of a special handpiece that propels tiny abrasive particles through a stream of clean, dry air onto the tooth surface. This technique is remarkably effective for resolving a number of tooth problems. It can be used for removing discolorations and stains. It can repair and replaces small fillings, and, most importantly, it can be used to expose hidden cavities.
Hidden cavities are a bigger problem than ever before due to the presence of fluoride in city water supplies. Fluoride hardens teeth and makes them resistant to runaway tooth decay and cavities that form in the grooves of teeth. However, the hardening effect of fluoride causes the teeth to become vulnerable to cavities that penetrated the hardened enamel and go all the way into the dentin. These smaller cavities are too difficult for traditional dental instruments to detect and treat.
Special dyes are used instead to find these tiny cavities, and then air abrasion is used to remove the decay so the tooth can then be repaired with dental bonding agent. This offers many advantages over standard general dentistry methods of treating tooth decay. To begin with, there is no drilling of the teeth preparatory to filling. Neither vibration nor pain is involved in the process. Furthermore, there is little or no heat generated, so the majority of the patients who receive air abrasion treatment find it to be remarkably comfortable as well as painless. Obviously because of this, we do not need to use Novocain or any other type of anesthetic. People are able to drive home and continue to work around the house, or they can drive to the office and work, without a numb feeling in their mouths.
The best thing about air abrasion, though, is that it preserves teeth better than probing tools and dental drills can ever do. Since only a minimal amount of tooth structure is removed, most of the natural tooth remains intact.
Cosmetic Dentistry is a specialized field that requires extensive knowledge and experience to be done correctly. The Medical Center Cosmetic Dental Group in Houston, Texas brings all of that and more to the direct benefit of each and every patient we treat. Although we are located in the world famous Houston Medical Center at Scurlock Towers, we routinely see dental patients who travel from Austin, San Antonio, Dallas, Beaumont, Katy, Galveston, Woodlands and Midland Texas to see Dr. Dale Brant, Dr. Charles Campbell or Dr. Elizabeth OSullivan-Winslow for their cosmetic denistry services. We also service clients internationally, including Canada, Middle East, Asia, Europe, Australia, Mexico, Central America, and South America.