Shopping? Check out our latest product comparisons

New plasma "brush" may mean painless cavity filling

By

December 21, 2011

The new plasma 'brush' could revolutionize cavity repair

The new plasma 'brush' could revolutionize cavity repair

Image Gallery (2 images)

We've been keeping an eye on efforts to make the dreaded dentist's drill a thing of the past for some time, and now there's more good news on the horizon for the cavity-prone (and pain-phobic). Engineers at the University of Missouri (MU) in conjunction with Nanova, Inc. have successfully lab-tested a plasma "brush" that can painlessly clean and prep cavities so well, there's no need for mechanical abrasion prior to filling. The really good news is that human clinical trials begin soon and, if all goes well, the device could hit dentist's offices as soon as late 2013.

The overall process, which in the lab proved to be free of side effects, takes about 30 seconds per cavity and not only disinfects the area by bombarding bacteria with ions, but also favorably alters the surface of the tooth so that the filling material bonds even more effectively.

"One of the major problems in the dental field is there are certain types of cavities that, when you try to restore them, the life-span of that restoration is only about 5-7 years," said Andre Ritts, senior scientist at Nanova, Inc. "So we'll try to use the plasma brush to modify the tooth surface to let the filling material better adhere to that surface. With a better adhesion, a better wedding of that surface, you create less voids and a stronger bond with the tooth, which should hopefully also increase the life-span of those restorations."

Correcting tooth decay is very big business in the United States with the current price-tag for the roughly 200 million annual dental restorations easily adding up to a cool US$50 billion. Hao Li, associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering in the MU College of Engineering, believes his team's new plasma brush could help lower that expense appreciably.

"A tooth can only support two or three restorations before it must be pulled," Li said. "Our studies indicate that fillings are 60 percent stronger with the plasma brush, which would increase the filling lifespan. This would be a big benefit to the patient, as well as dentists and insurance companies." Indeed, the painless aspect alone would likely drum up more business from those who have been avoiding the dentist's chair from their fear for needles and drills. On top of that, stronger, longer-lasting fillings translates into fewer visits, and that's an idea we can all sink our teeth into!

Check out the video below to learn more about the plasma brush.

About the Author
Randolph Jonsson A native San Franciscan, Randolph attended the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland before finding his way to the film business. Eventually, he landed a job at George Lucas' Industrial Light + Magic, where he worked on many top-grossing films in both the camera and computer graphics departments. A proud member of MENSA, he's passionate about technology, optimal health, photography, marine biology, writing, world travel and the occasional, well-crafted gin and tonic!   All articles by Randolph Jonsson
9 Comments

Kool...

Kelvin Onus-King
22nd December, 2011 @ 03:44 am PST

"A tooth can only support two or three restorations before it must be pulled,"

Huh? I have molars with half a dozen fillings or refillings! Back in the silver filling days, my dentist would clear out an old filling and refill it...This was almost routine! Not with these tooth colored fillings, I don't know...I only have a few of those.

My question on this device is, is it like the laser drill that dentists now use? The laser cannot be used on fillings and can only be used on the actual tooth. I don't have much actual tooth left in my mouth, so most cavities are usually under or around existing fillings!

Ed
22nd December, 2011 @ 03:53 pm PST

It's like a wee little light saber, in your mouth!

Gregg Eshelman
22nd December, 2011 @ 04:13 pm PST

Lol at 1:54

Matthias Sammitza
22nd December, 2011 @ 04:56 pm PST

@ Gregg Eshelman

Aye; that it be

Stephanie Stebbins Tethrake
23rd December, 2011 @ 09:36 pm PST

so pumping free radicals into your mouth is safe?

philly
24th December, 2011 @ 10:58 am PST

Being trained as a Dentist's Assistant, let me assure you that a lot of that is hype. They've invested a lot in R&D and they want to make a lot back. There are only 5 'surfaces' to a tooth, so (on a medial chart) it's only possible to have about a half-dozen fillings before the whole tooth has been replaced. But in reality, there are many people with a whole lot of fillings in their teeth, with absolutely no need to have the teeth pulled. Besides, if you already have 3 surfaces restored with Composite or Amalgam filling material, and you need more treatment on that tooth, the typical next step is to crown the tooth; not pull it. Sure, if you have decay into the root, then it will need to be pulled... but even if the tooth has decay into the nerve, as long as the root is solid to the level of the bone, they can save it. Worst case scenario, they do a root canal (remove the nerve), cement a post into its place, and place a crown in the place of the entire natural crown. But even at that point, the tooth hasn't been pulled.

The drill is unpleasant, but I would be extremely cautious about anything that introduces potential radiation or other nasties to your body. That's like treating a broken bone by amputating the limb; sure, it took care of the issue, but was it worth it?

Oh, and @Ed: The Composite ('tooth colored') fillings are stronger than the old Amalgam, and I've seen patients with entire crowns made out of Composite material. It bonds to other composite from existing restorations quite well (unlike Amalgam, which requires the Dentist to completely remove any existing Amalgam before adding any), and it bonds to the tooth (think glue), unlike Amalgam which is basically only held to your tooth by pressure (think Lego bricks snapping together).

Drew Farkas
31st December, 2011 @ 12:07 am PST

Want to stop bothering with dentists altogether? Start brushing, once a day or so, with pure glycerin. It's a sweet, 3-carbon alcohol, and contact-dehydrates bacteria. It follows surfaces, and goes right to the root, and into any cavities. Just swallow it when done; it's a GRAS food additive.

Gum problems vanish, within days. Loose teeth firm up, and stay that way.

It will also wipe out defensive mouth white cells, but they're replaced immediately by saliva. Related: a sip swished on the back of the tongue and swallowed instantly ends death-breath. And a dab inside each nostril gently drains and clears your sinuses.

Lots more, but that's an intro to this super-cheap common substance, ignored by anyone in the world of medicine or drugs etc. who wants to make money. It's a glut on the market, a major byproduct of biofuel manufacture, etc.

Brian Hall
8th January, 2012 @ 07:25 am PST

P.S. to the above: glycerin seems to have no problem breaking down and dissolving biofilm (e.g. that protects the back-of-tongue sulphur bacteria). Its potential needs to be seriously researched.

Brian Hall
8th January, 2012 @ 07:29 am PST
Post a Comment

Login with your gizmag account:

Or Login with Facebook:


Related Articles
Looking for something? Search our 27,881 articles