Tooth decay is considered to be an national epidemic; estimates suggest that 92 percent of all adults (aged 20 to 64) have had experience with either tooth decay or dental cavities. For decades the specific dental problem has been treated by dentist cleaning up the rotted area (by manually removing decay) and filling the void left behind with conventional tooth filling materials. However, new advancements in dentistry are making the traditional methods obsolete as scientists have just announced that they have perfected a painless dental filling process that is expected to be available to patients as early as 2013.
The dental care advancement has come courtesy of scientists at University of Missouri. Researchers there have developed a filling technique that uses a new plasma brush instead of the traditional dental drill. In less than 30 seconds, the plasma brush will not only disinfect and remove decay, but the device can also kill bacteria and create a better bond during the tooth filling process.
Individuals who suffer from dental anxiety or are sensitive to the pain caused by the dental drill can expect to see light at the end of the tunnel as the latest dental technology is currently undergoing human clinical trials. The newly launched plasma brush is the result of a collaborative effort between University of Missouri engineers and Nanova, Inc.
The preliminary human testing is expected to begin in early 2012 at the University of Tennessee-Memphis. Product developers believe that this step will deliver the data that Nanova needs to locate investors. After those steps, the product must still be approved by the Food and Drug Administration before becoming an approved dental treatment. The expected timeline for produce release is late 2013.
The plasma brush has already tested well in lab environments with the developers citing absolutely no side effects associated with the use of the master prototype. According to the product developers "the chemical reactions involved with the plasma brush actually change the surface of the tooth, which allows for a strong and robust bonding with the filling material," (http://munews.missouri.edu/news-releases/2011/1220-%E2%80%9Cpainless%E2%80%9D-plasma-brush-is-becoming-reality-in-dentistry-mu-engineers-say/).
Rumor has it that annually, Americans spend $50 billion dollars for approximately 200 million tooth fillings. Hao Li, the associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering in the MU College of Engineering has suggested that "replacement fillings comprise 75 percent of a dentist’s work" and the latest advancements courtesy of the plasma brush is expected to change all that.
Dental care and dentistry has been evolving along with man. The Indus Valley Civilization has yielded evidence of dentistry being practiced as far back as 7000 BC (Coppa, A. et al. 2006. Early Neolithic tradition of dentistry. Nature. Volume 440. 6 April 2006). Sumerian text dating back to 5000 BC indicate the first sighting of "tooth worms" and ancient scholars including Hippocrates and Aristotle speculated and wrote down their thoughts on dental problems and gum disease.
Thanks to past thoughts, the dental fillings that gave way to the traditional gold, amalgam and composite options began as early as the 1800s (Dr. Richard A. Glenner and Dr. P. Willey, "Journal of the History of Dentistry," 1998). The earliest dental filling procedures involved manipulating various metals to fill the left behind by tooth decay to help patients chew and eat. As primitive dentists continued experimentation with techniques and tools, the procedures to treat cavities have remained about the same, until now.
The next generation of dental patients may not only benefit from plasma brush, but other alternative dental treatments to combat dental problems. One such option has come Scientists at the University of Leeds that discovered that an applying peptide fluid can provide a pain-free approach to treating dental decay. Their research has found that the peptides ("short polymers of amino acids linked by peptide bonds" Wikipedia.com) may do the job. This dental treatment would be directly applied to a diseased tooth surface and to stimulate tooth regeneration and to repair the damage done (http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/233254.php).
Just like the plasma brush, the peptide treatment has sent a ripple of excitement throughout the dental care profession. However both options have several years until readily available so patients should embark on mission of good oral hygiene backed by preventative dentistry until the new products are available for use. Individuals looking to find a dentist to get dental care now simply need to call 1-800-DENTIST, 24/7 to get the name of a dental care provider who has the latest dental treatments available.