Plasma jets to blast away tooth decay

Bacteria in the mouth that causes tooth decay could be blasted away by plasma jets.

That’s the latest dental innovation, according to a new study published in the February issue of the Journal of Medical Microbiology.

Firing low temperature plasma beams at dentin reduced the amount of dental bacteria by up to 10,000-fold.

The findings could mean plasma technology is used to remove infected tissue in tooth cavities.

Scientists at the Leibniz-Institute of Surface Modifications, Leipzig and dentists from the Saarland University, Homburg, Germany, tested the effectiveness of plasma against common oral pathogens including Streptococcus mutans and Lactobacillus casei.

In this study, the researchers infected dentin from extracted human molars with four strains of bacteria and then exposed it to plasma jets for 6, 12 or 18 seconds.

The longer the dentin was exposed to the plasma, the greater the amount of bacteria that were eliminated.

Plasmas have an increasing number of technical and medical applications and are produced when high-energy processes strip atoms of one or more of their electrons.

This forms high-temperature reactive oxygen species that are capable of destroying microbes. These hot plasmas are already used to disinfect surgical instruments.

Dr Stefan Rupf, from Saarland University who led the research, said that the recent development of cold plasmas that have temperatures of around 40 degrees Celsius showed great promise for use in dentistry.

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