One of the best ways to not need cosmetic dentistry during your lifetime is to keep your teeth as clear of plaque as possible. The pillars of dental care are oral hygiene, a correct diet and regular trips to the dentist for examination and cleaning. The dental hygienist removes plaque with an instrument called a scaler.
In many offices, the old scaler, which was a hand instrument, has been replaced by an ultrasonic scaler, which uses frequency to rid the enamel of plaque before the plaque can eat through and cause damage to the tooth.
The research team used high speed cameras to record the cavitation, which is the formation of bubbles around the head of the scalar. They varied the head shape and the power of the scalers, to get a full sample of cavitation patterns.
The team conducted the research with the intent of giving designers and manufacturers enough data to help design scalers to work more efficiently and actually work without the necessity of the scaler ever touching the tooth. This not only would make scalers more effective, it would also make them less painful.The team used a Satelec ultrasonic scaler that operates at a frequency of 29 kHz. They used medium and high power settings and used three different heads, giving a total of six different configurations.
They recorded the results with high speed imagery at settings of 15,000, 90,000 and 250,000 frames per second. They used scanning laser vibrometry to record tip displacement.
The imagery showed that the cavitation occurs at the end of the tip with different areas and widths depending on the shape of the tip. It also showed that the cavitation increased with increases in power. One of the reasons people often skip visits to the dentist is because it is so uncomfortable for them. While we do our best to keep it painless, we realise that a lot of patients just have sensitive teeth and gums. Anything that helps us provide dental services with more efficiency and less pain will help people keep their teeth more healthy, resulting in less cosmetic procedures down the road.
Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, we encourage you to discuss these matters with an appropriately qualified health practitioner.