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The Use of Air Polisher in Dentistry

New technology is transforming all areas of the way we live and dentistry is no exception. The innovative air flow polishing technique uses a machine that cleans and polishes the teeth with a mix of water, compressed air and fine powder particles. Air Polishers are mostly used by the dental hygienist to remove stain, plaque, and polish the enamel above the gum line.

A powerful yet controlled jet of water, air and fine powder not only polishes all the surfaces of a tooth, removing plaque, discoloration and soft deposits, but also reaches deep into periodontal pockets up to a depth of 5 mm. It is far more efficient than traditional scrape and polish treatment at removing the damaging biofilm that develops when dental plaque is colonized by bacteria and can cause periodontitis and peri-implantitis to develop. Air flow polishing is completely safe to use with dental implants, veneers, crowns and bridges.

In supragingival polishing, the powder of choice is usually sodium bicarbonate which is abrasive and helpful with the removal of heavy stains and soft deposits above the gumline. With subgingival air polishers, the tip is specialized to be able to effectively enter the periodontal pocket and deliver a very low abrasive powder. The powder of choice with subgingival air polishing is Glycine. Glycine is an amino acid and is significantly smaller in particle size than sodium bicarbonate. It appears to have an active role in the disruption of bacterial recolonization making it both preventive and therapeutic.

The main goal in subgingival air polishing is root debridement resulting in the removal of biofilm. This biofilm elimination can result in a beneficial shift in the oral microbiota. Studies have shown that subgingival air polishing tends to have less adverse effects for the patient such as pain and sensitivity versus hand instrumentation. Moreover, the subgingival dental air polisher is much more effective in reaching the base of pockets over 5mm and removing biofilm than hand instrumentation.

Anyone who has ever cringed as a scraping tool digs into their gums or a polishing disc presses onto tooth enamel will welcome air polishing for its painless, fast and non-invasive method of cleaning. Even deep pockets and interproximal areas are easily reached without uncomfortable and potentially damaging probing by curettes and scrapers and with no instrument contact, the technique does not generate any heat or vibration. The non-toxic powder used in air polishing is also more pleasant and less gritty than the heavy paste used in traditional polishing.

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