A new ‘gas-firing’ device may offer a pain-free alternative to the dentist’s drill — and could make fillings even more hard-wearing.
The device, which resembles an electric toothbrush, cleans out cavities in rotten teeth in only 30 seconds, according to new research.
It works by generating high-energy gas and liquid particles to kill bacteria and blast out the decayed pulp of the tooth.
Estimates suggest that around one-in-four of us fear going to the dentist, leading to many people not visiting at all
The researchers at the University of Missouri who developed the device say it means less discomfort for patients, as it does not affect the highly sensitive nerves in the teeth.
Conventional drills cause pain because the vibrations from the drill trigger signals in these nerves.
Tooth decay is the second most common health problem after the common cold.
It is caused by bacteria in the mouth — one of the bacteria’s main food sources is sugar, which is why sweet treats accelerate tooth damage.
Most cavities are discovered by dentists in the early stages during routine check-ups.
The surface of the tooth may be soft when probed with a sharp instrument, but there is often no pain until the advanced stages of tooth decay.
Dentists fill teeth by drilling out the decayed material and replacing it with white or amalgam fillings made from a variety of different metals including tin, silver, copper and mercury.
An estimated eight million cavities are filled each year in the UK.
Estimates suggest that around one-in-four of us fear going to the dentist, leading to many people not visiting at all.