Many people have phobias of the dentist, this can be for many different reasons such as smells, clinical facilities, or instruments that are used in procedures. New techniques in dentistry means that some clinics are using drill-free dentistry or techniques. The dentist’s drill being one of the most common phobias of many patients. This drill – free technique is called air – abrasion. Air – abrasion techniques were in fact first used in dentistry in the 1950’s. Although popular with patients, it’s use faded due to unsuitable bonding materials in regards to fillings, crowns and so on. In recent years products and techniques have been redeveloped. Air – abrasion dentistry can be used in cases of tooth decay, as well as chipped, fractured or discoloured teeth.


Here we take a look at air – abrasion techniques in dentistry, the advantages as well as limitations, in comparison to traditional techniques, what to expect in a procedure and more!


Air – abrasion is a way to remove tooth decay and small areas of the tooth without the use of a dental drill. The air – abrasion instrument uses a powerful stream of high pressured air full of tiny aluminium oxide particles. These particles remove tiny tooth molecules, removing decay or in the case of a fractured or worn tooth, this air – abrasion technique can be used to sculpt the tooth. This can be for preparation for fillings, crowns, bridges and more.


Needle – free.

Drill – free.

Pain-free – Usually no need for anaesthetic.



A chipped, fractured or broken tooth depending on its severity can have air – abrasion as an alternative to drilling. It is most commonly used in preparation, to enhance adhesion for composite fillings (white filling), porcelain veneers and Maryland bridges. The air – abrasion procedure is a good technique for tooth bonding.


Please note that every case is different, the more severe the condition of a tooth, for example, a crack which is exposing nerves or tooth pulp (the inner structure or life of the tooth) the less likely air – abrasion will be effective or used.


Do you need treatment on a chipped or broken tooth? Read more.




As a patient, your dentist may give you protective glasses to wear during the procedure. The dentist will also fit you with a rubber dam inside your mouth to isolate the problematic tooth as well as to create a barrier for surrounding teeth. During the procedure, the dentist or the dentist’s assistant may use a water spray as well as suction to minimize build up of particles used in abrasion.


Air – Abrasion can create a gritty feeling in your mouth, this is a harmless accumulation of particles, which can be easily removed through rinsing.

Do you want to know more about drill-free dentistry?



There are advantages of using air – abrasion, it can be an effective alternative to drilling, however, it is limited and cannot be applied to every case.

The advantages of air – abrasion are more so in terms of tooth preparation, the abrasion technique means that the tooth can more effectively bond to composite or other materials used in fillings or cosmetic procedures.

When air – abrasion can be used as an alternative to drilling it can…


Ease anxieties through taking away common fears associated with the dentist. This makes it a great alternative for those who have a dental phobia and is totally safe for both adults and children.

Do you have a fear or phobia of the dentist? Find out how we can help.


Create an acute precision, meaning the precision of air – abrasion enables the dentist to only remove decay or necessary tooth surface without damaging the rest of the tooth.


Non-invasive, for the air – abrasion technique you will not need anaesthetics as this should be a pain-free procedure.



Air – abrasion dentistry is limited, and unfortunately, it is not suitable in every case where drilling would otherwise be required. In the case of severe decay, cavities or in complicated cases, air – abrasion may not be effective, this is because a patient could benefit much more from an alternative procedure, such as root canal treatment.

Every case is individual and there are lots of factors to take into consideration, your dentist will be the best to advise you if air – abrasion is the most effective procedure for your case.

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