We have all had decay that was fixed by using the dental drill. This requires shots and the 2-4 hours afterward for the “wearing off” process. Air abrasion was brought into dentistry in the late 1980’s by the same people who invented the dental laser. The concept is that the powder that is used “dusts away” the decay (which is soft) and does not cut the tooth unless it is applied to hard tooth structure for a longer length of time. The object is to only remove the soft decay. No shots are required unless your teeth are sensitive to air. We can do teeth in all 4 quadrants in one visit and save the patient the time they would lose in making multiple appointments. The powder tastes like chalk and is rinsed out easily and quickly. Your bite is easy to check since you are not numb. It is easy to use on children, in fact, they think it tickles and often laugh while we are working on them. Any adult that has had shots loves this option.
The air abrasion will not cut metal or porcelain and cannot be used to take out old mercury fillings or old crowns. The air abrasion instrument that we use is called the KCP 1000. It is being used in less than 10% of dental practices world wide. We have been using it since 1989. Its perfect mate is an instrument called a diagnodent which is a special laser used to detect decay that is not yet visible to the naked eye. Using the diagnodent to detect the decay early and using the air abrasion to restore the decay avoids the shots that so many people fear.