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How to avoid the Dental Drill

Air abrasion is a minimally invasive alternative to the well known and much reviled dental drill. It works like a mini sandblaster and consists of a small hand-piece which sprays a fine jet of aluminium oxide particles at high speed using compressed air.


Compared with the traditional drilling method, the advantages of air abrasion are many and include the following:

  • Air abrasion generates no heat, sound, pressure or vibration

  • Great to use for children and those who fear the drill

  • Reduces the need for anaesthesia, particularly if the cavity is shallow

  • Removes tooth structure more slowly and carefully than a drill

  • Reduces the risk of micro-fracturing and chipping of the tooth

  • Can be used to roughen the surface of fractured fillings, crowns and bridges resulting in the possibility of their repair without the need for complete replacement


  • Air abrasion sometimes requires a local anaethetic (injection in the mouth) as the air can cause sensitivity if the cavity is deep

  • Due to the relatively slow speed of tooth removal, it is best suited for cleaning small cavities that form early on the surface of teeth

  • Can be a little messy because of the powder

Due to the advances in dental materials, especially in the field of bonding and adhesion, air abrasion has become a very useful tool in dentistry. Less invasive treatment means that the drill can be used less and repairs can be more predictable than before. The benefits to patients are that treatments are more comfortable and the fear of dentistry is further reduced.

So in order to avoid or reduce the need for the dental drill come for regular check-ups so that problems can be spotted earlier and if any treatment is needed you may be able to benefit from air abrasion.

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