Sedation dentistry has seen a significant increase in popularity as many patients find trips to the dentist very traumatic. Anxiety runs high as people try to prepare themselves for the pain associated with simple procedures, like having a cavity filled. There’s good news though for everyone who worries about their semi-annual visit to the dentist. According to the article “Painless plasma brush is becoming reality in dentistry, MU engineers say,” found on EurekAlert.org, engineers at the University of Missouri are getting much closer to releasing a tool that would allow for a painless and extremely effective method of replacing fillings.
The brush works quickly, only requiring approximately 30 seconds for cleaning and disinfecting a cavity in preparation for filling. Using a chemical reaction, not only does the brush prepare the cavity but it actually changes the surface of the tooth, creating a better, stronger bond with filling materials. According to Oingsong Yu, associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering of MU, there haven’t been any negative side effects in lab trials of the plasma brush. Human clinical trials are scheduled to begin at the University of Tennessee-Memphis in 2012.
Hao Li, associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering in the MU College of Engineering says that Americans spend about $50 billion on tooth restorations annually. The new plasma brush will help bring those costs down. An additional benefit is the strength of the fillings placed with the new technology. Previously, a tooth was only able to sustain two or three restorations before requiring extraction. Li states that the plasma brush proved to produce fillings that were 60% stronger, increasing the lifespan of a filling. If the next round of clinical trials is successful, researchers are hoping for FDA approval, which may have plasma brushes on the market by 2013. A painless, cheaper, more durable alternative sounds too good to be true, but only time will tell. The research alone is exciting for dentists and patients alike.