Engineers at the University of Missouri and Nanova Inc. have finished lab tests of a plasma “brush” that can clean and prepare cavities for filling without causing pain. The brush works by disinfecting the area using ions. In the course of this, it alters the surface of the tooth to make it more favorable for bonding with the filling material. The procedure takes approximately 30 seconds per cavity.
Aside from the pain-free aspect, there’s another benefit to using the plasma “brush.” Says Andre Ritts, a senior scientist at Nanova:
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. 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.
The plasma brush, which caused no side effects in lab tests, must now complete a round of human testing. If it proves safe and effective there, it’s likely we’ll begin to see it in use in 2013.