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Sunday, February 21, 2010

Dental Drills – Rewind and Fast Forward to Future Painless Plasma Jets


Most dental phobias stem from the pain associated with the “Dental Drills” that are commonly used by dentists to remove dental decay. This is a small high-speed rotating drill used to clean the decayed portion of the tooth and prepare it for a filling material.

The history of this fascinating piece of dental equipment goes way back to the “Bow Drill Era” in the 7000BC that originated in the Indus valley of India and Pakistan. Can you imagine how excruciatingly painful the dental procedures must have been then. Since then the dental drill has been modified several times in shape, size and speed over the centuries to make it more effective.

In 1790, the First Dental Foot Engine evolved as the earliest form that was built by John Greenwood and one of George Washington’s dentists. See Picture below.
                            footpeddle

Convential Dental drill.jpg

As the dental technology advanced further, the speed of the dental drills (Dental Hand Piece) increased with time, thereby considerably decreasing the pain that was associated with the drilling procedures. I remember starting my dental training with the conventional dental drill that was a motor attached to the dental chair as seen in the picture.

 Conventional Dental Drills:  http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Fotothek_df_roe-neg_0002315_001_Zahn%C3%A4rztliche_Ma%C3%9Fnahmen_bei_einem_Kind.jpg#filelinks

800px-Grünes_Winkelstück_38.JPG

These conventional drills produced a lot of heat and friction while cutting the cavity, thereby causing a lot of pain and sensitivity. There was always a perpetual fear of damaging the pulp and nerve tissues in deep cavities, due to the heat generated, causing pulpitis. To overcome these problems, a new concept of the water jet attached to the dental drills evolved with faster speeds of the air rotor (using compressed air). It was during my Internship, in 1991, that I got to use the air rotor hand piece that seemed to work like a dream. The patients were definitely more comfortable; the chair time was reduced drastically and cavity cutting became much easier and refined.

Plasma Jets to replace the Dental Drill

For all those people who fear visiting the dentist and the dental drill, there is good news. A new plasma technology has opened up new horizons for painless dental care procedures and may eliminate the need for the Dental Drill. Yes, you heard right!

According to latest news reports, “Plasma jets that remove tooth decay-causing bacteria could be an effective and less painful alternative to the dentist’s drill, German researchers said.”

A blowtorch-like device fires low temperature plasma beams at the dentin to remove the decayed tooth structure and to decrease the bacteria content by up to 10,000 times. The study finds this to be a less invasive way to treat cavities in the future.

“For the study (February issue of the Journal of Medical Microbiology), the researchers infected dentin from extracted human molars with four strains of bacteria and then exposed the dentin to plasma jets for 6, 12 or 18 seconds. Apparently, the longer the dentin is exposed to the plasma, the more bacteria got eliminated.”

Normally, plaque-forming bacteria cling to the surface of the enamel thereby eroding it to infect the dentin and the pulp tissue, which causes dental decay. This, if left untreated can cause further gum infection and spread to other teeth rapidly to cause pain and discomfort. Therefore, it is essential to eliminate the bacteria from the surface of the teeth as soon as possible, by correct hygienic measures. However, once a tooth gets decayed resulting in a cavity formation then the only way to remove the bacteria is by drilling.

“Drilling is a very uncomfortable and sometimes painful experience. Cold plasma, in contrast, is a completely contact-free method that is highly effective.”

According to the latest news reports, plasma dentistry may be available within three to five years.

Incidentally, plasma can also be used effectively to sterilize other dental surgical instruments, particularly the endodontic files used for root canal procedures.

Original article posted on Xomba.

VOGUE PRO DENTAL DRILL WITH FOOT PEDAL

3 comments:

vaughandental said...

It is amazing how far dentistry has come along from its previously barbaric ways. -dental vaughan

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lilly martin said...

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