Painless Plasma Could Replace The Dreaded Dental Drill

Plasma, the ionized gas considered the fourth state of matter, has become increasing popular as an anti-aging skincare procedure. And soon, it may be finding its way to our mouths as an alternative and painless method for treating cavities.

German researchers recently tested the power of plasma jets aimed at dentin, the bony tissue beneath enamel, that had been eroded by four common strains of cavity-causing bacteria. They found that that longer the dentin was exposed to low-temperature plasma (up to 18 seconds in this study), the more bacteria were destroyed-as much as a 10,000-fold reduction.

This could mean plasma, which won't harm the dental pulp at around 100°F, may ultimately replace the daunting drill when it comes to removing infected tooth tissue.

"Drilling is a very uncomfortable and sometimes painful experience. Cold plasma, in contrast, is a completely contact-free method that is highly effective," explained lead researcher Dr. Stefan Rupf. "Presently, there is huge progress being made in the field of plasma medicine, and a clinical treatment for dental cavities can be expected within three to five years."

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