Nothing unnerves anxious patients more than the dentist’s drill, but a new gas-firing device may offer an alternative.
The device, which looks like an electric toothbrush, can clean cavities entirely in less than 30 seconds, researchers claim. It works by blasting dead pulp tissue and destroying bacteria using highly-charged liquid and gas particles.
The team at the University of Missouri responsible for developing the device, known as the non-thermal argon plasma brush, claim that it eliminates the pain associated with traditional dental drills. This is because it doesn’t interfere with the nerves in the mouth, which are often particularly sensitive.
It also allows fillings to be bonded to the tooth more effectively, they claim, with research suggesting fillings are up to 60% stronger when the plasma brush is used.
Research has shown that, in the UK, decay is the second most common illness, and that 8 million patients require fillings each year. But with around 25% of people fearful of visiting the dentist, many people fail to get the treatment they need.
The promise of pain-free fillings, without the fear associated with the idea and the noise of a drill, may well help to persuade many anxious patients to take their dental health more seriously.
Trials of the new device are due to begin soon at the University of Tennessee. If the trials support the claims made by the University of Missouri research team, the plasma brush could be in mainstream use by the end of 2012.