Gas Treatment May Replace Dentist Drill

Your memory is stimulated by your senses. And your sense of hearing can trigger one very unpleasant recollection: the anxiety-inducing sound of the dentist's drill. That whirling and grinding is enough to make a quarter of all people fearful of the dentist, but unfortunately, that puts their dental health at risk. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 90 percent of all Americans have had at least one cavity.

There may be new hope for those who fear the dentist's chair. Researchers at the University of Missouri are working on their version of a device to eliminate the need for the drill.

The device, called a non-thermal argon plasma brush, blasts out a gas filled with tiny particles that kill any bacteria it comes into contact with and cleans the cavity. Currently, a dentist uses a drill to cut through the tooth enamel to remove decay.

The new device, the researchers say, won't harm tissue and it takes only 30 minutes to clear the decay away. Because they say it cleans teeth more thoroughly, they found that the fillings that are then used to repair teeth were 60 percent stronger than fillings put in drilled teeth.

The gas-blasting brush will undergo clinical trials before it's available in the U.S., but you read more about the results published in the European Journal of Oral Sciences. Either way, the idea of forever forgetting the whizzing sound of the dentist's drill will make it worth the wait.


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