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New plasma “brush” may mean painless cavity filling

December 26, 2011
"A tooth can only support two or three restorations before it must be pulled, Our studies indicate that fillings are 60 percent stronger with the plasma brush, which would increase the filling lifespan."
- Hao Li, associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering in the MU College of Engineering

We've been keeping an eye on efforts to make the dreaded dentist's drill a thing of the past for some time, and now there's more good news on the horizon for the cavity-prone (and pain-phobic). Engineers have successfully lab-tested a plasma "brush" that can painlessly clean and prep cavities so well, there's no need for mechanical abrasion prior to filling.

The really good news is that human clinical trials begin soon and, if all goes well, the device could hit dentist's offices as soon as late 2013.

The overall process, which in the lab proved to be free of side effects, takes about 30 seconds per cavity and not only disinfects the area by bombarding bacteria with ions, but also favorably alters the surface of the tooth so that the filling material bonds even more effectively.

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