Can Plasma Jets Replace the Dentist’s Drill?

January 26, 2010 by  
Filed under featured, Health


Sounds like science fiction, but it could soon be a reality to avoid those painful sessions and target the dental bacteria that cause cavities. Scientists and dentists from Leipzig and Homburg in Germany collaborated to test the effectiveness of plasma against the bacteria that form a film on the surface of teeth and erode tooth enamel and the fibrous tooth structure underneath the enamel coating (dentin) and cause cavities. Firing low temperature plasma beams at dentin was found to reduce the amount of dental bacteria by up to 10,000-times.

These bacteria can cause you to have toothache, cavities, and sometimes severe gum infections. The researchers exposed infected teeth to plasma jets for 6, 12 or 18 seconds, and the longer the exposure then the greater the amount of bacteria that were eliminated.

Using plasma jets are a painless alternative to the drill and they could be used to remove infected tissue in tooth cavities. The low temperature of the plasma ray means they can kill the microbes while preserving the tooth and avoiding damage to the blood supply and nerves around it. and heat damage to it must be avoided at all costs.”

If you want the scientific bit; plasmas are produced when high-energy processes strip atoms of one or more of their electrons which then forms high-temperature reactive oxygen species that are capable of destroying microbes. There are hot plasmas already in use to disinfect surgical instruments and the recent development of cold plasmas with temperatures of around 40 degrees Celsius show great promise for use in dentistry.

Don’t rush to your dentist just yet though, as although this is groundbreaking work it is not likely to be widely available for at least three years.