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Advances in Dental Care: What’s New at our office?
Air Abrasion: Dental Health Without the Drill
Air abrasion is a drill-less technique that is being used by some dentists to remove tooth decay and for other applications.
How Does Air Abrasion Work?
During air abrasion, an instrument that works like a mini sandblaster is used to spray away decay. During air abrasion, a fine stream of particles is aimed at the decayed portion of the tooth. These particles are made of silica, aluminum oxide, or a baking soda mixture and are propelled toward the tooth surface by compressed air or a gas that runs through the dental handpiece. Small particles of decay on the tooth surface are removed as the stream of particles strikes them. The particles of decay are then "suctioned" away.
Is Air Abrasion Safe?
Yes, air abrasion is safe. The only precautions needed before air abrasion are protective eye wear (to prevent eye irritation from the spray) and the use of a rubber dam (a rubber sheet that fits around teeth). The suctioning of particles also prevents them from being breathed into the lungs.
What Are the Advantages of Air Abrasion?
Compared with the traditional drilling method, the advantages of air abrasion are many and include the following:
- Air abrasion generates no heat, sound, pressure, or vibration.
- Air abrasion reduces the need for anesthesia, particularly if the cavity is shallow.
- Air abrasion leaves much more of the healthy tooth tissue behind.
- Air abrasion leaves the working area relatively dry, which is an advantage during the placement of composite fillings.
- Air abrasion reduces the risk of microfracturing and chipping of the tooth, which some experts believe can lead to premature restorative failures.
- Air abrasion allows the dentist to treat multiple sites in the mouth during a single visit.
- The procedure is relatively simple and quick
High-Tech Digital X-rays
Digitized X-rays (think digital camera) are replacing traditional radiographs. Although digital X-rays have been on the market for several years, they have become more popular with dentists in recent years.
Digital X-rays are faster and more efficient than traditional radiographs. First, an electronic sensor (instead of film) is placed in the patient’s mouth to capture the image. The digital image is then relayed to a computer, where it is available for viewing. The procedure is much faster than processing conventional film.
Your dentist can also store digital images on the computer and compare them with previous or future images to see how your dental health is being maintained.
And because the sensor is more sensitive to X-rays than film is, the radiation dose is reduced.
Digital X-rays have many uses besides finding cavities. They also help look at the bone below the teeth to determine if the bone level of support is good. Dentists can use the X-rays to check the placement of an implant -- the titanium screw-like device that is inserted into the jawbone so that an artificial tooth can be attached.
Digital X-rays also help endodontists – dentists who specialize in root canals -- to see if they have thoroughly cleaned the canal during the procedure.
What is an inlay?
An inlay is an indirect restoration (filling) consisting of a solid substance (as gold or porcelain) fitted to a cavity in a tooth and cemented into place.
When is an inlay used to restore teeth?
Sometimes, a tooth is planned to be restored with an intra-coronal restoration (such as amalgam and composite), but the decay or fracture is so extensive that a direct restoration or filling, would compromise the structural integrity of the restored tooth or provide substandard opposition to occlusal (i.e., biting) forces. In such situations, an indirect gold or porcelain inlay restoration may be indicated.
When an inlay is used, the tooth-to-restoration margin may be finished and polished to such a super-fine line of contact that recurrent decay will be all but impossible. The superiority of an inlay in terms of resistance to occlusal forces, protection against recurrent decay, precision of fabrication, marginal integrity, proper contouring for gingival (tissue) health, and ease of cleansing offers an excellent alternative to the direct restoration.
What is an onlay?
An onlay is the same as an inlay, except that it extends to replace a cusp. Similar to an inlay, an onlay is an indirect restoration which incorporates a cusp or cusps by covering or onlaying the missing cusps. Crowns are onlays which completely cover all surfaces of a tooth.
When is an onlay used to restore teeth?
When decay or fracture incorporate areas of a tooth that make amalgam or composite restorations inadequate, such as cuspal fracture or remaining tooth structure that undermines perimeter walls of a tooth, an onlay might be indicated.
What are the benefits of an onlay restoration/filling?
All of the benefits of an inlay are present in the onlay restoration. The onlay allows for conservation of tooth structure when the only alternative is to totally eliminate cusps and perimeter walls for restoration with a crown.
Just as inlays, onlays are fabricated outside of the mouth and are typically made out of gold or porcelain. Gold restorations have been around for many years and have an excellent track record. In recent years, newer types of porcelains have been developed that seem to rival the longevity of gold.
If the onlay or inlay is made in a dental laboratory, a temporary is fabricated while the restoration is custom-made for the patient. A return visit is then required to fit the final prosthesis. Inlays and onlays may also be fabricated out of porcelain and delivered the same day utilizing techniques and technologies relating to CAD/CAM Dentistry.