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The Good Uses of Dental Air Polishing

During periodontal surgery, air polishers can prepare root surfaces detoxify them effectively and efficiently, and leave a uniformly smooth root surface that is clean and free of diseased tissues. Dentinal tubules are then occluded, which may result in decreased sensitivity. Superior growth and vitality of human gingival fibroblasts was evident when ultrasonic scaler was followed by air polishing, compared to ultrasonic scaling alone. Air polishing produced root surfaces that were comparable to manually rootplaned surfaces, and provided better access to furcations.


Air polishing has been compared to scaling and rubber-cup polishing for efficiency and effectiveness of stain and plaque removal. The literature overwhelmingly supports the use of the air polisher as an efficient and effective means of removing extrinsic stain and plaque from tooth surfaces. Air polishing requires less time than traditional polishing methods and removes stain three times as fast as scaling with comers. In addition, less fatigue to the operator has been mentioned as an important benefit of air polishing.


Effects of air polishing on gold foil, gold castings, porcelain, amalgam, and glass ionomers have been studied. Air polishing of amalgam alloys and other metal restorations has produced a variety of effects, including matte finishes, surface roughness, morphological changes, and structural alterations. One study found no detrimental changes to the marginal integrity of amalgams. Surface roughness, staining, pitting, and loss of marginal integrity were seen on porcelain surfaces.


One study reported only minimal changes in porcelain and gold alloys. Hand instrumentation at the gingival margins and caution were recommended when working around these restorations. The surface roughness of glass ionomers increased following either air polishing or rubber-cup polishing. Until research findings on air polishing's effect on these restorative materials are unequivocal, clinicians should follow manufacturer recommendations to "avoid prolonged or excessive use on restorative dental materials.


In restorative dentistry, dental air polishers have provided stronger composite repairs than traditional etching gels. They also are superior to rubbercup polishing in preparing occlusal surfaces for etching prior to sealant placement because the rubber cup forces debris into the fissures. Air polishing of occlusal surfaces also allows for deeper penetration of the sealant resin into the enamel surface than rubber cup and pumice cleaning of the fissures. Air polishers also have enhanced sealant bond strength compared to traditional polishing with a low-speed handpiece, bristle brush, pumice, and water.


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