- A Quick Guide To… -
MINIMALLY INVASIVE DENTISTRY
The aims of modern dentistry are increasingly being directed towards preventing damage to teeth and gums. This is focussed through improvements in daily cleaning routines, use of fluoride toothpastes, and dietary advice. Early detection of dental disease is paramount in reducing the damage done to the mouth. Minimally invasive dentistry is the art of preventing and arresting dental disease through minimal intervention. One of the most conservative tools we have at our disposal is the dental air abrasion system.
These mini sandblasters use compressed air to precisely direct a stream of ultra fine particles at teeth for a variety of purposes including the early treatment of tooth decay.
Our hygienist team are equipped with a specialist stain removal air abrasion system. After giving the teeth a clean to remove all the bacterial film and calculus, the abrasion system can effectively remove all the stain on the teeth. Conventional polishing systems are extremely good at cleaning accessible surfaces, but struggle to remove the stains from between teeth. This limitation doesn’t apply to the air abrasion polishing, and any staining, from tea, coffee, red wine and smoking is easily and comfortably removed.
Proven method of reducing the incidence of tooth decay (caries) in teeth, are fluoride varnishes and fissure sealants. We endeavour to either fissure seal or apply fluoride varnish to all at-risk teeth and newly erupting molar teeth in children. The fissure pattern in the tooth is gently cleaned using air abrasion; this ensures the fissures sealant materials bond directly to the tooth, whilst simultaneously keying the surface of the tooth to accept the adhesives. In doing so, the sealants fill the grooves in the teeth, preventing bacteria that promote decay from growing in them.
Air abrasion is a brilliant system to treat early decay in the biting surface of a tooth. Although Air Abrasion cannot replace the dental drill for all fillings, it can often provide an alternative. Tiny abrasive particles are directed in a powerful stream of air and water to remove minute amounts of tooth structure, making a drill seem coarse by comparison. By controlling air pressure and flow rate, together with a nozzle diameter of only 0.6mm, the instrument can accurately produce the precise amount of abrasion needed. It can even uncover areas of very early decay that are not detected on x-rays. The result is a minimally-invasive method of removing decayed or unwanted tooth material. With Air Abrasion there is no heat or vibration generated, so it can often be used without any local anaesthetic injections.
To further enhance the abilities of our air abrasion equipment, we also use a specialist powder called Sylc. This specially designed bioactive powder has several benefits; it removes softer areas of decay, leaving a healthy tooth surface behind, cleans extrinsic stains from the surface of the tooth, leaving them looking whiter, and also helps desensitise sensitive teeth. When combined with saliva or water, Sylc forms hydroxycarbonate apatite crystals (HCA), which are chemically similar to natural tooth mineral. These seeks out and form a tooth-like layer over vulnerable areas of the tooth where dentine is exposed. This in turn increases the natural protective and repair mechanisms of saliva.
Whilst Air Abrasion cannot remove metal fillings or prepare teeth for crowns, it does sometimes allow for repair to the latter. In the past, if early decay was noted at the edge of a crown, it usually meant it needed cutting off to repair the damage, before making a new crown. The small tip, and lack of vibration produced by the air abrasion can sometimes be used to remove the decay, leaving the crown in place, so that a repair can be effected, saving both time and money.
The technology is also useful in repairing existing composite or porcelain restorations that may have chipped or fractured by roughening their surfaces to allow better bonding to take place. Porcelain veneers can also be repaired more easily without the risk of fracture or damage as there is no vibration. All patients may benefit from the use of this treatment, but it is especially useful in the treatment of children and adults where local anaesthetic is not possible due to medical conditions.
Heathwood Dental Practice
1 Kings Road, Crowthorne,
Berkshire. RG45 7BF