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Removing Dental Plaque with Micro-bubbles

Whether through accidents or diseases, tooth loss can cause a lot of inconvenience. However, dental implants such as crowns have allowed people to overcome most of these and live a better quality of life.

But like normal teeth, these dental implants require proper care and oral hygiene to prevent further complications such as inflammation of the tissues surrounding the implant. Although the accumulation of plaque mainly adheres to the crown, it also adheres to the exposed parts of the screws that fix the dental fixture and these parts are more difficult to clean because they contain microgrooves to make them better suited to Upper or lower jaw.

Hitoshi Soyama of Tohoku University in Japan and his dental instruments research team at Japan’s Showa University conducted a study to find a better way for dentists to remove this plaque and prevent complications. The team wanted to study the efficiency of the cavitation jet, where high-speed fluid was injected from the nozzle through water, producing very small vapor bubbles. When these bubbles collapse, they generate powerful shock waves that can remove contaminants.

Researchers use some type of nozzle to create cavitation bubbles that remove air bubbles when they collapse.

The team compared the cleaning effect of the cavitation jet with the cleaning effect of the water jet, which has been used for a long time to remove plaque from the dental implant to keep it clean. They had grown three days of biofilm in the mouth of four volunteers, then cleaned it with two different methods and measured the amount of remaining plaque over several time intervals.

Although there was almost no difference in the amount of plaque removed by the two methods after 1 minute of washing, it changed after prolonged exposure. After three minutes, the cavitation jet has removed approximately one-third of the plaque from the water column and the small plaque left at the end of the experiment adheres to the implant. The cavitation jet not only removes plaque from the root portion of the screw, but also removes plaque from hard-to-reach peak portions, albeit to a lesser degree.

"The traditional method does not clean the plaque on the dental implant surface very well, so this new method can provide dentists with a new dental equipment to better manage these increasingly common fixtures," Soyama said.

Previous studies have shown that water flow exerts shear stress to remove biofilm. In addition to this shearing effect, when the bubble bursts, the cavitation jet also generates a considerable force so that the particle can be removed from the biofilm and taken away. The researchers stated that the two processes may work together to make cavitation jets superior to water jets when cleaning dental plaque on irregular surfaces of dental implants.

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