Plasma Jets to replace the Dentist’s Drill

Posted on 01 February 2010 by admin

The Journal of Medical Microbiology has published a report detailing how plasma jets could be an effective and less painful alternative option to the dentist’s drill.

It has been discovered through testing that plasma jets are capable of killing tooth decay. Or rather the bacteria that causes it.
Firing low temperature plasma beams at dentin – the fibrous tooth structure underneath the enamel coating – was found to reduce the amount of dental bacteria by up to 10,000-fold. The findings could mean plasma technology is used to remove infected tissue in tooth cavities . In the past and the here and now, the dentist’s drill is used.

German scientists have tested the effectiveness of plasma against all common mouth bacteria. The type that we all know damage the surface of teeth and are capable of not just eroding tooth enamel but the dentin below which cause cavities.
Sample teeth and dentin were infected with the said bacteria, the plasma jets were fired at the sample teeth for short periods of time. 5 – 10 seconds, typically. The results were astounding and the longer the jets were applied , the more bacteria disappeared.

Plasmas are known as the fourth state of matter after solids, liquids and gases and have an increasing number of technical and medical applications. Plasmas are common everywhere in the cosmos, and are produced when high-energy processes strip atoms of one or more of their electrons. This forms high-temperature reactive oxygen species that are capable of destroying microbes. These hot plasmas are already used to disinfect surgical instruments.

Dr Stefan Rupf from Saarland University who led the research said that the recent development of cold plasmas that have temperatures of around 40 degrees Celsius showed great promise for use in dentistry.

“The low temperature means they can kill the microbes while preserving the tooth. The dental pulp at the centre of the tooth, underneath the dentin, is linked to the blood supply and nerves and heat damage to it must be avoided at all costs.”

He went on to say:

“Drilling is a very uncomfortable and sometimes painful experience. Cold plasma, in contrast, is a completely contact-free method that is highly effective. Presently, there is huge progress being made in the field of plasma medicine and a clinical treatment for dental cavities can be expected within 3 to 5 years.”

This technological advance is win, win for dental patients and dental professionals. Less messy, noisy, potentially risky work for dentists, and a much better, less painful, clean option for patients.
The drill is the single biggest fear most dental patients have, so eradicating it may be a fantastic thing. We may look back and wonder how we managed with the drill for so long.
Although for some patients it will always be needed.

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