Sandblasting for teeth is a relatively new dental procedure that can be used in place of drilling to help clean teeth and remove decay. Most patients prefer this to the drill because is not as painful and does not have some of same uncomfortable sounds so many people associate with trips to the dentist. This technique is also known as air abrasion.
How it Works
Air abrasion is commonly called "sandblasting for teeth" because of its obvious resemblance to sandblasting. Instead of sand, a powerful stream of aluminum oxide is used. And instead of cleaning something like paint off a wall, decay is "blasted" off of the surface of the teeth.
Air abrasion can be used in place of a drill for many—but not all—dental cleaning procedures. This technique can be used to remove plaque, tooth decay and even some stains. Teeth can be prepared for cavities and other procedures, and help expose hidden cavities in the teeth. Air abrasion is also faster than traditional drilling, and allows the dentist to treat more parts of the mouth in a single visit.
Generally, a dental dam is used to protect the parts of the mouth and gums that will not be treated by the air abrasion technique. Protective eyewear is also generally worn by both the patient and dentist during the procedure to minimize the risk of particles getting into the eyes.
Air abrasion is generally considered a painless method, especially when compared with many traditional dental techniques. However, some patients do feel a small amount of pain. In particular, some patients feel discomfort when the particles used in the technique strike the gums instead of the teeth. A cautious dentist can limit that contact and limit the potential for pain at the same time.
There are no established side effects of air abrasion or sandblasting for teeth methods. No drugs are used in the procedure, and patients are generally not sedated (unless a sedative is required for a separate dental procedure performed in the same session).