Getting a tooth filled is never a fun experience, no matter how old you are. Cavities can be painful, especially deep ones that are closer to the tooth’s root. At Epic Dentistry for Kids in Aurora, we try our best to provide a quick, painless experience for our younger patients. It’s important to get cavities filled regardless of how uncomfortable they may be. Otherwise, the tooth can become more damaged and even infected.
To improve our patients’ experience, our pediatric dentist is constantly researching new technologies and methods for providing comfortable teeth fillings. One of the newer technologies to come to the forefront of pediatric dentistry is micro air abrasion. This is a new way to clean out the decayed tooth and plaque in a cavity without any drills! It makes appointments much faster and less frightening for kids at the dentist. Read on as we answer common questions about air abrasion.
How does air abrasion work?
Air abrasion uses a special tool to propel minute fragments of aluminum oxide onto the surface of the affected tooth with gas or air to remove the decay. The tiny particles of decay are then suctioned off by the pediatric dentist’s tube. Patients can also request the use of a rubber dam on their teeth and gums to prevent the air abrasion tool from affecting surrounding areas, though that is rarely a problem.
Because the tooth stays dry during the entire procedure, it is ready for a composite filling to be applied right away. Metal fillings won’t work with a tooth that has been treated using the air abrasion method.
After the abrasion, the dentist will apply a dye to make sure all of the decay was successfully removed. An air abrasion treatment will give the tooth a smooth finish, so before the dentist puts in the filling, the dentist will need to place a solution on the tooth to make it a little rougher. It’s easier for fillings to attach to the tooth surface if the tooth surface is rough.
Why choose air abrasion?
Dental drills and air abrasion accomplish the same purpose, but air abrasion serves children much better. Here’s why parents should consider this option for their children at the dentist’s office:
Less stressful for children
With the dentist’s drill gone, so is the noise, pressure, vibration, and heat that it produced. Just hearing the dreaded sound was enough to put a child on edge and cause them to tense up. When you eliminate scary, loud drills from the situation, kids suffering from dental anxiety will feel a lot less scared.
No need for anesthesia!
Air abrasion is also particularly useful in treating children who have small cavities since the process replaces the need for drilling and is usually performed without anesthetic. This opens the door for the dentist to treat more than one tooth per visit!
Reduces loss of healthy enamel
Another advantage of using high tech air abrasion is that it greatly decreases the chances of losing the healthy part of the tooth. The instrument can precisely target cavities without drilling away unnecessary enamel. Regular drills can accidentally remove healthy enamel because they don’t mold to the shape of the cavity.
The air abrasion technique is not only good for removing tooth decay. Air abrasion can also be used for other restorative procedures such as:
- To take out old fillings
- Get a tooth ready to accept a sealant
- Get rid of unsightly stains
- To repair chipped, fractured, or worn teeth
What are the risks of air abrasion?
The air abrasion technique is best when used on shallow cavities. The tool may not be able to get rid of plaque and decay for deep cavities that are closer to the pulp. In this case, the pediatric dentist will recommend using a drill.
Considering that air abrasion works best on a patient whose cavity is in the earliest stage, keeping to a regularly scheduled agenda of appointments with a pediatric dentist is the best way to make sure that your child never has to dread the drill again.
As we mentioned before, silver fillings don’t work well with the air abrasion technique. Patients need to get composite fillings to protect their teeth after an air abrasion technique because composite fillings stick to the area better.
Generally, air abrasion is extremely safe, possibly even safer than dental drills and definitely safer than allowing a cavity to go untreated. Parents are often scared to try new technology because they are unfamiliar with it, but the benefits of modern dental techniques often far outweigh any risks. If pediatric dentists never tried anything new, we would still be stuck poking each other’s mouths with sticks!
Does air abrasion require any special follow-up care?
Nope! Your child can treat their new fillings like any other tooth. Regular brushing & flossing, and dental exams are all that’s needed to maintain a tooth filling created with air abrasion. To prevent cavities in the future, parents can supervise their children’s diet and sugar intake. Bacteria feed on the sugars in food to create acid that erodes the enamel. Over time, this can cause cavities and gum disease.
If you have any other questions about air abrasion, feel free to contact our pediatric dentist in Aurora! Dr. Patterson is always happy to answer questions about his work and provide patients with a deeper understanding of pediatric dentistry.