June 21, 2010
by: David Gutierrez
A painless alternative to dental drills is already on the market in some parts of Europe, suggesting that drills may become altogether obsolete within the next few years.
Dentists currently use drills to grind away at sections of a tooth where decay-promoting bacteria have taken hold, then patch up these holes with a dental filling. Yet drills can cause mental distress to patients, and also have to remove significant portions of healthy tooth to get at the diseased portion.
Enter the new Icon dental syringe, produced by DMG Dental Products, in conjunction with the University of Kiel, Germany and the Charite Medical University in Berlin. To use the syringe, dentists first place a rubber collar around the diseased tooth to prevent nearby teeth from acid damage. The syringe then applies an acid gel to just the diseased portion of the tooth. Within minutes, the acid has eaten away all the infesting bacteria and is washed off. The tooth is dried with ethanol, and the small hole is patched with a dental resin. A high-energy blue light is then applied to make the resin dry quickly.
According to the manufacturers, the Icon syringe is especially good at treating small caries before they develop into more serious dental problems.
Icon is already on sale in several parts of Europe, and will soon be available in the United Kingdom.
Another technique, currently under development, has been forecast to make dental drills obsolete within three years. In this procedure, dentists use a small, blowtorch-like machine to spray decaying sections of teeth with a high-powered beam of purple plasma (a gas so hot that its electrons have been removed). The plasma is not hot enough to damage the mouth, but effectively disinfects dental caries for filling.
Like Icon, the plasma beam could be used on small cavities and would cause less damage to the structure of the tooth.
February 9, 2010
By James Tozer
It’s the main reason so many of us feel such trepidation when faced with a trip to the dentist.
But the dreaded drill could soon be a thing of the past thanks to a new technique in which teeth are treated with acid gel squirted from a syringe.
Although acid in food and drink is one of the biggest causes of decay, scientists say its corrosive properties become an advantage when it comes to removing rotting parts of teeth.
And while a drill can destroy healthy parts of the tooth, the makers of the pencil-sized ‘Icon’ syringe say their treatment is far more efficient at removing only the diseased area – and less traumatic.
First, a rubber ‘collar’ is placed around the target tooth to protect its neighbours. The four-inch syringe then applies a spot of the gel to the discoloured and decaying part.
Within a couple of minutes the acid etches through the enamel into the cavity below, which is then cleaned then dried using ethanol. FInally, the dentist injects a quick-drying resin into the hole which hardens quickly under a high-energy blue light.
The finished filling looks like normal tooth enamel and the whole process takes just 15 minutes.
Icon’s developers say small areas of decay, or ‘caries’, can be treated early before they develop into large cavities, sparing patients more invasive treatment and discomfort.
The treatment has been developed by German company DMG Dental Products in conjunction with the University of Kiel and the Charite medical school in Berlin.
It is on sale in several European countries and due for release in Britain in ‘the near future’, the company says.
Nigel Carter, chief executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, said: ‘This new technique looks like it has got potential but I would like to see more published studies first and see how it works in the longer term.’
He added that several non-invasive techniques are being developed. A plasma jet beamed into tooth cavities to thoroughly disinfect them, allowing the dentist to put in fillings, could replace the drill in three years, scientists say.