February 9, 2010

Acid Could Replace Dentist’s Drill

The thought of a trip to the dentist causes many people anxiety, but all of that is about to change.

According to the MailOnline, the dreaded drill may soon see the last of its days due to a new technique in which teeth are treated with acid gel squirted from a syringe.

Scientists say that although acid in food and drinks are one of the biggest causes of decay, its corrosive properties become an advantage when it comes to removing rotting parts of teeth.

A drill destroys healthy parts of the tooth, while the pencil-sized "icon" syringe treatment is far more efficient at removing only the diseased area, and is also less traumatic.

A rubber "collar" is first placed around the target tooth to protect the other teeth.  The four-inch syringe then applies gel to the discolored and decaying part.

Within minutes the acid etches through the enamel into the cavity below.  Afterwards it is cleaned then dried using ethanol.  The dentist then injects a quick-drying resin into the hole, which hardens quickly by using a high-energy blue light.

The finished filling looks completely normal and the process only takes about 15 minutes. 

The developers say that small areas of decay, or "caries", can be treated early before they develop into cavities, sparing the patients more invasive treatment and discomfort.

DMG Dental Products, a German company, developed the treatment in conjunction with the University of Kiel and the Charite medical school in Berlin.

The company says that it is on sale in several European countries, and due for release in Britain in "the near future."

Chief executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, Nigel Carter, said "This new technique looks like it has got potential but I would like to see more published studies first and see how it works in the longer term."

He also said that several non-invasive techniques are being developed.  One is a plasma jet that is beamed into tooth cavities to thoroughly disinfect them, which allows the dentist to put in fillings.  Scientists say this could replace the drill in three years.


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