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Air Abrasion Procedures: An Alternative to the Dental Drill

By Randal Watson, DDS on March 30, 2018

An air abrasion dental hand pieceMore and more dentists are looking for drill alternatives. These alternatives to drill offer many benefits on both sides of the dental chair. There are a number of different systems out there that can replace a traditional drill. It’s a testament to the many innovations in dental technology that so many methods are available to dentists today, each with their own benefits to consider.

At our Austin, TX dental practice, we are proud to use air abrasion to prep teeth and to reshape tooth enamel. Many patients are not familiar with the concept of air abrasion and why it has so many important advantages over the dental drills of the past. Let’s cover some of the basics of air abrasion below.

How Does Air Abrasion Work?

Air abrasion may best be described as a mini-sandblaster. This certainly gives you a straightforward idea of how this dental technology works.

The air abrasion technology uses a fine stream of tiny particles to blow away precise amounts of tooth structure. These particles are usually made of aluminum oxide, silica, or special mixture that predominantly consists of baking soda. Compressed air blows these particles out of a small handpiece. Any excess particles in the mouth are removed using suction.

Prepping a Tooth for a Restoration

The most common use for air abrasion is when dentists prep a patient’s teeth for a dental restoration. The fine particles help remove damaged tooth structure, leaving only health, sturdy tooth structure behind. Whether a filling, inlay, onlay, or crown is being placed, air abrasion can get the job done.

Prepping a Tooth for Porcelain Veneers

In addition to prepping a tooth for a restoration, air abrasion can also be used to help prepare a tooth for a porcelain veneer. Just a small amount of tooth structure needs to be removed for a veneer to be placed. This speaks to the precision and accuracy of air abrasion technology.

The Benefits and Advantages of Air Abrasion

There are several key benefits to air abrasion technology:

  • No Off-Putting Sound - Drills usually have a high-pitched whirring noise that is annoying and even irritating. That’s not the case with air abrasion, which just sounds like a stream of air.
  • No Heat or Excessive Friction on the Tooth - Drills produced a great deal of heat and friction on the teeth given the point of contact made, which is not a worry with air abrasion.
  • Preserves More Healthy Tooth Structure - Drills could potentially cause small chips or fractures on teeth when used. Air abrasion is highly precise, meaning dentists can accurately preserve healthy tooth structure.
  • Less Anesthetic Required - Thanks to the precision and lack of friction, dentists can perform procedures using less anesthetic. This allows patients to avoid prolonged anesthetic side effects and get back to normal routines sooner.
  • Less Patient Anxiety - Drills are often a source of fear and stress at dental visits. By eliminating the drill from a procedure, this helps improve the patient’s overall experience and satisfaction.

Learn More About Advanced Dental Technology

For more information about advanced dental technology and how it can help you, be sure to contact an experienced cosmetic and restorative dentist. Randal Watson, DDS and his team are here for you. We’ll enhance the appearance and health of your smile.

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