Bye-Bye to the Dentist’s Drill?

Just in time for Christmas treats, researchers at the University of Missouri have developed what they think may a device that could eliminate the horrifying buzz of a dentist’s drill going in for a cavity.

In a university press release, researchers state that human trials will soon be underway for a “plasma brush,” making painless — not to mention sound-less — fillings a possibility in the future.

Watch how the plasma brush works:

According to the release, it only takes 30 seconds for the plasma brush along with chemical reactions to clean out and disinfect cavities before they are filled:

In addition to the bacteria-killing properties, the “cool flame” from the plasma brush forms a better bond for cavity fillings.  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.


“200 million tooth restorations cost Americans an estimated $50 billion a year, and it is estimated that replacement fillings comprise 75 percent of a dentist’s work. The plasma brush would help reduce those costs,” said Hao Li, associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering in the MU College of Engineering. “In addition, a tooth can only support two or three restorations before it must be pulled. Our studies indicate that fillings are 60 percent stronger with the plasma brush, which would increase the filling lifespan. This would be a big benefit to the patient, as well as dentists and insurance companies.”

If all goes well with the human trials beginning at the University of Tennessee-Memphis in 2012, researchers state the plasma brush could be replacing dentists grinding drills as early as 2013.

[H/T Gizmodo]