..Painless jets of plasma could come to replace the drill in the fight against harmful bacteria in dentistry. Rather than relying on a drill’s brute force, dentists seek less invasive ways of wiping out stubborn, tooth-decaying bacteria.
Cavities can form in teeth as bacteria penetrate through their enamel coating to an inner region that consists of dentin which is a pulpy material.
Dentin is the fibrous, bonelike material that makes up most of a tooth under the outer enamel layer. As bacteria in our mouths chow down on sugars, they produce an acid that eats into these teeth layers, eventually boring cavities.
Cavities can cause a great deal of pain, and if left untreated can lead to serious infections and even death.
When this material begins to decay, dentists normally drill away the damaged enamel and dentin. Then chemically disinfect the area, and protect it with a resin filling as well as restore the tooth’s shape.
How it works.
Low-temperature plasmas can kill these bacteria, potentially stopping cavities forming in the initial phase, without the patient feeling pain in the process. Plasmas may provide us with new possibilities for destroying bacterial biofilms, thereby preserving more dentin.
Plasmas are clouds of ionized gas used by medical professionals. This serves to sterilize surgical equipment. As well as parts of the human body during operations. In dentistry, it is problematic to use plasmas because they can damage the dental pulp inside a tooth as their formation usually requires temperatures of at least 100 °C.
It’s a pulsed plasma that switches on and off with high frequency. Only in the on phase does the microwave energy heat the plasma. It also uses a high flow of gasses that cools the surface when the plasma is off.
Tests of cool plasma were done on bacteria both in cultures and adhered to dentin slices. Growth was completely inhibited in the two types of bacteria. While bacterial colonies reduced 10,000-fold in the dentin slices. The adherence to tubules allowed some colonies to survive on all the dentin slices. However, more bacteria died when exposed to the plasma jet for longer, this could help dentists reduce or avoid drilling.
The plasma warmed the dentin surface to about 44 °C, but this should not damage the tooth interior. Patients feel a warm gas flow upon application.
Plasma jets can assure pain-free dentistry without the high-pitched whine of drills
Laser equipment for similar applications is already available for about €10,000. A plasma tool could cost just a few thousand Euros. Microwave excitation is cheap, simple and safe the same technology used to heat up food, Although many qualifications and certifications issues have to be tackled, plasma tools may be available for commercialization soon.