Air abrasion is a relatively new decay removal/tooth preparation procedure we often use in place of the traditional dental drill. We find it useful because it allows us to both conserve the patient's natural tooth structure and reduce the risk of enamel micro-fracturing. It also entails minimal discomfort, since the equipment does not produce vibration or heat, thus requiring little or no anesthetic. It is also both quieter and faster than using a drill.
So how does it work? Air abrasion applies the principle of kinetic energy to bombard the tooth area with a high-pressure stream of tiny aluminum oxide particles. As the particles bounce off the tooth's surface they effectively blast away any existing decayed or damaged structure. The process requires only a minute or so per tooth. Considering these factors, it's easy to see why air abrasion is a popular choice for working with children, as well as adults. While it's not appropriate for crown and bridge preparation, it's useful in fissure reparation, discoloration elimination and bonding procedure preparation.