You know that feeling you get when you leave the dentist’s office after a cleaning - that fresh, squeaky-clean feeling your teeth have when you run your tongue over them? That feeling may soon feel even better, if a new method of teeth cleaning that uses microbubbles is approved.
Developed by teams of researchers at Tohuku and Showa Universities in Japan, the cleaning process delivers vapor-filled microbubbles that are blasted onto the teeth through a cavitating jet. As the bubbles hit the teeth, they pop and collapse, creating a vibrating shockwave that cleans the teeth.
"The really cool thing about these little bubbles is that they actually work better than traditional water jets at cleaning off the teeth," says Dr. Stephen Hill, a dentist in Allen, Texas.
Not only do the microbubbles do a better job cleaning biofilm from natural teeth, but they also do a better job at cleaning biofilm off of crowns and dental implants.
"It can be very difficult to clean crowns and implants thoroughly because of the texture of their surface, but the microbubbles did a much better job at removing biofilm from these prostheses, and they were even able to get into the screws and the crest of the tooth, which is much harder with water jets," says Hill.
Though the microbubble cleaning method is not currently available to dental patients, researchers are hoping to use the cavitating jet in conjunction with the water jet to create a more powerful method of cleaning.
"I’m not sure how it feels, but it sounds very cool. It will be interesting to see what the finished product looks like," says Hill.