Plasma Jet May Someday Replace Dental Drills

The use of the drill in dental clinics has been dreaded by most patients paying a visit to their dentists. The pain it may possibly cause can even lead to some to avoid going to the dentist clinic. Someday, a painless way to do the same procedure might be possible.

Researchers from Germany have come up with a plasma jet tool that might be set to replace the old dental drill used in most clinics today. According to them, it can be quite effective in getting to dental cavities just as the traditional dental drill but without the pain that most of the patients dread.

The plasma jet is composed of a beam of oxygen ions that are being focused into the tooth cavity which can then kill the bacteria living there. The process has been tested on common dental bacteria and is found to be quite effective. A 6 to 18 second blast from the newly developed plasma jet has been able to reduce bacteria levels by up to 10,000 times.

"The low temperature means they can kill the microbes while preserving the tooth. The dental pulp at the centre of the tooth, underneath the dentine, is linked to the blood supply and nerves and heat damage to it must be avoided at all costs", says Dr. Stefan Rupf, professor and lead researcher from Saarland University in Homburg.

"Drilling is a very uncomfortable and sometimes painful experience. Cold plasma, in contrast, is a completely contact-free method that is highly effective", Dr. Rupf further adds.

Researchers expect that the plasma jet can be developed for use in certain dental practices in as little as three years.