Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Plasma Jets Could Replace Dental Drills

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the open-wide dept.

Medicine 131

Hugh Pickens writes "The first electric dental drill was patented in 1875; modern drills grind the diseased portions of teeth away at up to 500,000 rpm. But dentists have been seeking less invasive ways of wiping out stubborn, tooth-decaying bacteria. Now Live Science reports that bacteria-killing jets of plasma could soon replace the drills used to treat cavities in our teeth. Researchers recently demonstrated that a small, blowtorch-like device emitting a relatively cool beam of purple plasma could eliminate oral bacteria in cavities, leaving more tooth structure intact than a drill does. To test how well 'cold' plasma jets (about 100F or 38C) sterilize tooth material, researchers took slices of dentin from extracted human molars, doused them with bacteria, and torched them with the plasma jet. An inspection via a scanning electron microscope of the damage done to the germs shows bacterial remnants had holes in their cell walls. When the plasma jet fires, it charges oxygen in the surrounding air, creating highly reactive molecules that can break down the bacteria's defenses. Researchers believe the technique could be available to general dentistry in three to five years."

cancel ×

131 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Guys, I need this ASAP (5, Funny)

dushkin (965522) | more than 4 years ago | (#31051978)

"Researchers believe the technique could be available to general dentistry in three to five years."

COME ON, guys, my appointment is on the 22nd. Hurry!

Sorry, we're open! (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31052166)

http://adsoftheworld.com/files/images/dunecdentistopen.jpg

We should've had them by now (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31052812)

/. had an article about very similar research about 4 years ago [slashdot.org] ...

Re:Guys, I need this ASAP (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 4 years ago | (#31053270)

Even if it works, it doesn't need to show up at your dentist. Carisolv apparently worked, too, and yet our teeth still get drilled.

Re:Guys, I need this ASAP (1)

wealthychef (584778) | more than 4 years ago | (#31054342)

It also has to be safe, affordable, and the worst obstacle will be getting it past the bureaucrats who "approve" medical devices.

Re:Guys, I need this ASAP (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 4 years ago | (#31053858)

Don't rush them or the first models will emit an ommmmmmmmmmmmmmmminous hummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm...

right... (1)

iamagloworm (816661) | more than 4 years ago | (#31051984)

so i just need to manage no cavities for another 5 years. it's been 6 since i saw a dentist. i can do this. come on!

Re:right... (5, Informative)

Eternauta3k (680157) | more than 4 years ago | (#31052030)

For cavities' sake, get checked. I skipped going to the dentist for years because I'd never had cavities, until I went and the guy found 3 :/

Re:right... (4, Informative)

laughing_badger (628416) | more than 4 years ago | (#31052068)

For oral cancers sake, get checked at least once per year. At that rate, they are usually treatable.

Re:right... (2, Insightful)

algormortis (1422619) | more than 4 years ago | (#31052700)

Dentists in the US sometimes lie for money. I remember when I went to one in Florida, and he said he had "found" a cavity and wanted to charge a ridiculous amount to fill it. Not even a week later, a relative of mine in New York checked my teeth (yes, she was a dentist) and said I didn't have any cavities.

Re:right... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31052924)

Maybe she were being sloppy because you weren't a paying customer. Get proof, like a photo of the cavity or whatever.

Re:right... (4, Interesting)

budgenator (254554) | more than 4 years ago | (#31053048)

Different clinicians practice to different standards and use differing treatment standards and different diagnostic methods. A dentist using the older standard probe and X-ray technique will miss more, using new digital radiography and new diagnostic aids more will be found. Many small caries can remain sub-clinical for decades or even unmineralized and get smaller or they can grow explosively. Sometimes the "caries" are caused by physical traumas like abfraction [wikipedia.org] due to bruxism [wikipedia.org] , clenching and other parafunctional habits. Unfortunately there can be differences based on economic considerations as well.

Standards of what is a cavity (4, Informative)

spineboy (22918) | more than 4 years ago | (#31053628)

I recently went after many years, and the dentist found three. I was a little suspicious, and asked the dentist about it. He said yes, due to advanced digital x-rays, cavities are spotted earlier. The more important fact was that he said with newer filling techniques and material, it allows them to fill smaller cavities. The older fillings didn't "take" that well in teeth, and so dentists had to let cavities grow largert, so they could fill them successfully. So the up to date, modern dentist will probably find these "mini-cavities" and fill them before it becomes a giant cavity.
Why do this then? Well one of my older style fillings was in a tooth that was weak, which cracked in half, and I needed a root canal and crown. The newer mini-fillings will keep more of the tooth, preventing problems like that in the future.

Re:Standards of what is a cavity (2, Informative)

alcourt (198386) | more than 4 years ago | (#31054424)

Just because they say there is a cavity doesn't mean there is one. A younger dentist insisted I had three cavities that needed filling. No x-rays, just based on the pressure test (where they push down on your teeth with a probe), where the dentist pushed down much harder than standards from several other dentists.

I changed dentists. He used x-rays and the pressure test and concluded no cavities. I mentioned what the other dentist said and he said no, no evidence of even smaller cavities. Since I was a new patient to the new dentist, he did a full workup, not just a routine visit checkup. Several years later, still no evidence of these supposedly obvious cavities.

Unfortunately, such fraud does occur. I don't know how common it is, but I am now convinced the one dentist was trying to invent work to justify excessive personal spending (she talked a lot about how much she'd spent on her home lately). I've seen enough guides to say that one of the best defenses against such fraud is to ask to see the pictures.

No, I'm not a dentist, but one doesn't have to be a dentist to realize that sometimes, a professional will claim work needs to be done when there is no professional justification for that work. It happens in all fields. I'm suspicious of the "well, our standards and technology have improved" excuse. For some reason, the older the dentist, the more likely they are to be willing to show me pictures or justification of any advised work (dating all the way back to when I was a kid and advised to get braces).

Re:Standards of what is a cavity (1)

algormortis (1422619) | more than 4 years ago | (#31054498)

My experience was basically almost exactly like this, except neither dentist used X-Rays; just the probe. I still don't have any cavities, and it's been four years since that dentist said I had a cavity. Thanks for backing me up alcourt :)

Re:right... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31054000)

and the guy found 3 :/

He found a frog that was being teabagged?

Re:right... (1)

Anubis IV (1279820) | more than 4 years ago | (#31054944)

Pfft, that's nothing. My dentist tells me that I have soft enamel passed down from my parents, so I regularly developed cavities throughout late high school and college. One time, between my regular six-month visits, I managed to develop 5 cavities. The most frustrating thing for me was the fact that I managed to develop them despite regular brushing with prescription toothpaste, flossing, and rinsing with prescription mouthwash, all while abstaining entirely from non-diet soft drinks at the request of my dentist. I'd go in every six months and get berated by my dentist for not taking proper care of my teeth every time she found another two cavities here or three cavities there. I probably got at least 8-12 drilled out during those years, despite all of my efforts.

Of course, that's not the end of the story. In a wonderful twist of irony, I finally reached the breaking point and gave up on a lot of the prescription stuff and taking good care of my teeth, since I was frustrated with the costs and efforts involved that seemed to be yielding no results...and I haven't had a cavity since. The dentist keeps commending me on how well I'm taking care of my teeth nowadays, compared to how I used to take care of them. If only she knew...

Re:right... (3, Informative)

deniable (76198) | more than 4 years ago | (#31052088)

I had my first fillings almost four years ago and the dentist had already stopped using drills. Mine were shallow so he used a mini sand-blaster. Mouth was full of grit after but better than the stories I've heard about drills. He said for deeper work they use a laser.

Re:right... (5, Funny)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 4 years ago | (#31052194)

He said for deeper work they use a laser.

That sounds awesome, but I'm a bit confused: how do they fit the whole shark inside your mouth?

Re:right... (3, Funny)

GaryOlson (737642) | more than 4 years ago | (#31052320)

Genetically modified pico-sharks, you ninny.

Re:right... (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 4 years ago | (#31052338)

The drills really aren't that bad, assuming that the dentist doesn't botch it. No new technology can be expected to solve poor technique or accidents.

Re:right... (4, Interesting)

TeknoHog (164938) | more than 4 years ago | (#31052412)

The drills really aren't that bad, assuming that the dentist doesn't botch it. No new technology can be expected to solve poor technique or accidents.

Actually, the way I understood this is that plasma is used to disinfect the dentin, instead of mechanically drilling away the infected part. So there is less potential for mechanical damage as well. Some drilling is probably necessary to remove the mechanically decayed part, but there is less need to remove extra layers just in case.

Re:right... (5, Informative)

aurispector (530273) | more than 4 years ago | (#31052742)

Looks like yet another solution looking for a problem. The point of the drilling is to remove infected dentin and leave healthy dentin intact. When teeth decay it's a process in which bacteria are demineralizing and destroying the hard structures of the tooth. Simply killing the bacteria is not sufficient to restore the damaged structures; the damaged structures themselves must be removed, along with any undamaged structures that have been undermined by decay. Additionally, if disinfection were the only goal the decay would still need to be exposed via drilling in order to effect disinfection. As much as people hate the drills, they also provide tactile feedback as to the location of decay. Hard tissue lasers are extremely expensive relative to the drills and provide no such feedback. Visual inspection is often insufficient to determine the quality of the dentin which is why we are always poking with those sharp little explorers. Another issue is being able to determine whether or not the bacteria have all been killed. Leaving infected dentin behind means the decay will simple continue from that point. Removing all of the softened, infected dentin is necessary to prevent recurrence of decay. Incidentally, traditional dental amalgam fillings (mercury, silver and tin) are inherently somewhat antibacterial. The metal tends to inhibit bacterial growth providing a small measure of protection to recurrence. However preventative measures like good daily diet and hygiene (e.g. cutting out the sugar and brushing/flossing) is still the best means of preserving your teeth.

Other methods of disinfection have been tried and failed, hence "drill and fill" remains the most reliable method of restoration.

Re:right... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31052754)

As a dentist, I can comment here with some degree of authority on the subject. If a tooth has cavitated, in other words, the surface has broken, the dentin part you speak of being disinfected is a mushy mess. Even if the plasma could "disinfect" this area, the tooth would be left with a spongy core, incapable of supporting the remaining hard structure of the tooth. One of the fundamental parts of preparing a tooth is to not leave any unsupported enamel. If "infected" dentin is left, albeit bacteria free, the chance for tooth fracture is great.

I do think that this technology would work in early caries removal, such as shallow lesions. Often you don't know how deep a carious lesion will go until you open things up and start excavating decay out. At some point you will have to use some sort of mechanical process to scoop the decayed material out, either a hand instrument or a slower speed bur.

Now if you are concerned about the trade-off between exposing the pulp (nerve) and needing a root canal, or leaving a thin layer of carious dentin, this plasma approach may be good. It has been shown in research that a small layer of decay left under the proper filling, can repair itself and if small enough no root canal therapy may be necessary. The plasma may help out in disinfecting this area and help out the repair process. But I digress...

Re:right... (1)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 4 years ago | (#31052684)

My problem with the drill isn't so much the touch factor (vibration)...it's the secondary factors, like the smell and the noise. Those can't be addressed with technique on the part of the driller.

Re:right... (1)

wealthychef (584778) | more than 4 years ago | (#31054454)

How about earplugs and noseplugs?

Re:right... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31052352)

This reminds of the following classic AI koan:

---

In the days when Sussman was a novice, Minsky once came to him as he sat hacking at the PDP-6.

"What are you doing?" asked Minsky.

"I am training a randomly wired neural net to play Tic-Tac-Toe."

"Why is the net wired randomly?" asked Minsky.

"I do not want it to have any preconceptions of how to play."

Minsky shut his eyes.

"Why do you close your eyes?" Sussman asked his teacher.

"So the room will be empty."

At that moment, Sussman was enlightened.

Home use? (4, Interesting)

MartinSchou (1360093) | more than 4 years ago | (#31052000)

Would this kind of device be useful in the bathroom? Probably not as a replacement for flossing or brushing, but fighting plaque build-ups in places you can't really get?

Re:Home use? (2, Informative)

diskofish (1037768) | more than 4 years ago | (#31052014)

This already exists. It's called a water jet.

Re:Home use? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31052350)

Do you have more info about this?

You probably don't mean http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_jet_cutter or do you?

Re:Home use? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31052038)

I'm not sure I'd want to drill my own teeth.

Re:Home use? (1)

dushkin (965522) | more than 4 years ago | (#31052058)

Self dentistry is a perfectly viable option.

Re:Home use? (5, Funny)

cvtan (752695) | more than 4 years ago | (#31052390)

I'f tried. No it ishn't.

Re:Home use? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31052586)

Depends on how much hair you have down there.

Re:Home use? (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 4 years ago | (#31054558)

but fighting plaque build-ups in places you can't really get?

Chew some xylitol gum instead. It tricks the plaque's metabolism into thinking its digesting sugar and effectively starves them. It's better to kill off the bacteria than to try to repair damage (one theory of the mechanism of action for fluoride is it assists with enamel remineralization). I half-started a list of products I've found to be of decent quality here [zylitol.com] . I should get back to that with some good recipes I've worked out too...

A bit cheaper than a home intra-oral plasma torch and more portable.

Re:Home use? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31054660)

Next up, Plasma Razors!

Shave with refreshing cool plasma! Watch the ladies enjoy the silky nature of plasma shaved skin.

Buy now, only 3 payments of $19.95

Gay Ninjas In Red Suits Prance Around Enterprise (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31052004)

Any chance these could be hallucinations?
One hallucination flattened me with a clout on the jaw.
That sounds like a painful reality.
Yes.
There must besome logical explanation.
Your signal's weak. Can you turn up your gain?
I'm already on maximum.
Captain, shall I beam down an armed party?
Negative. Our people here are armed with phasers.
Besides, there's yet to be any real danger.
Captain out.
McCoy. McCoy, do you read me?
Kirk to McCoy. Come in.
Captain, take cover!
There's a samurai after me.
I mean, there was...
Captain, you've got to believe me.
I've met some interesting personalities myself.

This can't possibly help dentist suicide rates. (0, Offtopic)

korney (1469497) | more than 4 years ago | (#31052028)

This can't possibly help dentist suicide rates.

Re:This can't possibly help dentist suicide rates. (1)

WillDraven (760005) | more than 4 years ago | (#31052616)

Actually I would think anything that greatly reduces the chance of a dentist visit resulting in painful drilling would eventually work to counter the stigma associated with the profession, and maybe alleviate the "everyone hates coming to see me" depression.

Hard coating? (4, Interesting)

swb (14022) | more than 4 years ago | (#31052034)

I've always wondered why they haven't developed a hard coating for teeth that would prevent most cavities and why we don't have vaccination against caries and periodontal pathogens.

It often seems like the basics of dentistry have changed little. There are newer materials for crowns and tooth-colored fillings, CNC machines and 3d modeling for crowns, but AFAIK going to the dentist is little different for me now than it was 40 years ago.

I sometimes wonder if advances in preventive dentistry aren't limited by the structure and practice of dentistry itself. Plus, dentists being dentists, they have a built-in interest in high-quality preventive care (high-frequency flossing, rinses, brushing, etc) and thus themselves develop few of the chronic problems that plague the general public and thus don't devote resources to better passive preventive systems/technologies as they believe the ones available are "good enough".

In a way it kind of reminds me of the problems non-technology people have with computers that technology people don't suffer from; these issues don't really get addressed within technology itself very aggressively because to the people who don't have these issues, they aren't considered serious problems or are considered side effects of other problems (general ignorance or lack of intelligence, etc).

Re:Hard coating? (4, Informative)

vadim_t (324782) | more than 4 years ago | (#31052060)

It exists: Dental sealant [wikipedia.org]

Re:Hard coating? (4, Interesting)

cntThnkofAname (1572875) | more than 4 years ago | (#31052168)

I have dental sealant, and it's no where near as good as natural enamel. I believe swb is getting at something that is better, that doesn't suffer from decay like enamel. The dental sealant that I have wears of every 3 to 4 years which results in mind numbing tingling sensation from exposed tooth nerve.

Re:Hard coating? (3, Interesting)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 4 years ago | (#31052800)

I have dental sealant, and it's no where near as good as natural enamel.

Last time I talked to a Dentist on a related subject, he told me that that's by design - better that your natural teeth wear on the sealant/crown/whatever than that the sealant/crown/whatever be hard enough to cause wear on your remaining natural enamel.

Re:Hard coating? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31052308)

It's nice in that it works to some degree. But it only protects the exposed part of the tooth.

If you're a regular sugary bevarage drinker, all it takes is that one errant bit of popcorn, tortilla chips, or beef jerky between the teeth to let the soda do it's work below the gum line. If you're not a good enough flosser the effect happens much faster. You'll find yourself with the problem of an otherwise normal looking intact tooth - but with a cavity that forms just below the gumline. And who knows what gunk gets trapped there if you can't manage to scrape it out. So the effectiveness of the sealant is not quite as good as you'd think it should be.

In a way, I wish there was a way to re-seed teeth and trigger the horomone process that causes baby-teeth to fall out. (But with defective or damaged adult teeth.) That may still be a few years down the road though. (I suspect this will happen sometime after aging treatment technology gets better, since human teeth haven't really evolved for going much past 40 or 50 with fairly casual maintenance.)

But until then, something that may cause less pain than drilling is a start.

Re:Hard coating? (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 4 years ago | (#31054214)

I believe there have already been successes with stem cell-based teeth regrowing.

Re:Hard coating? (1)

Zerth (26112) | more than 4 years ago | (#31054960)

/. had an article [slashdot.org] about regrowing teeth in rodents. Alas, that is like 10 years off.

I want glow-in-the dark teeth:)

Re:Hard coating? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31053032)

Man, that is +500 informative, thanks.

Re:Hard coating? (2, Insightful)

vadim_t (324782) | more than 4 years ago | (#31052174)

In a way it kind of reminds me of the problems non-technology people have with computers that technology people don't suffer from; these issues don't really get addressed within technology itself very aggressively because to the people who don't have these issues, they aren't considered serious problems or are considered side effects of other problems (general ignorance or lack of intelligence, etc).

Actually, forgot to say, the solution to this exists, it's known as a "console", or a "cell phone". I mean purpose limited machines, where all running code is either heavily sandboxed, or manually vetted by some party.

On general purpose machines such tactics are much less successful, because users actively fight such measures. At some point the user runs into a conflict between that they want to do something that the firewall/permissions/etc don't want to allow. And in such a case the security system is never seen as a good thing, and actively fought, disabled and worked around. Even if what the user wants to do is a seriously bad idea.

It's like trying to protect somebody who insists on that yes, they really want to cut the branch they're sitting on, and if their tool prevents committing suicide they get another that doesn't.

Re:Hard coating? (1)

ultranova (717540) | more than 4 years ago | (#31055592)

On general purpose machines such tactics are much less successful, because users actively fight such measures. At some point the user runs into a conflict between that they want to do something that the firewall/permissions/etc don't want to allow. And in such a case the security system is never seen as a good thing, and actively fought, disabled and worked around. Even if what the user wants to do is a seriously bad idea.

You know, I just one a several-day fight against Windows 7 insisting that 60 Hz is good enough for everyone on a CRT. It took extracting the EDID information on my display, manually tweaking it to hide the 60 Hz modes, turning the edited EDID to an INF, and finally installing said INF as a driver to prevent fullscreen applications (mainly games) from choosing modes that make my eyes bleed. Getting Ati Tray Tools working with Windows 7 - they aren't signed, and don't like UAC - is another fight I've decided to give up on.

What I'm saying is, automation and safeguards are nice, but they should always be bypassable just by responding "yes" to a warning prompt. If I want to disable some display modes (or add more), let me. If I want to load an unsigned kernel driver, let me. If you don't let me, it simply makes solving the problem even harder.

When automation makes your users reminisce about XFree86's modelines with longing, you've suffered epic failing.

For anyone interested, here [sevenforums.com] is a link to the 17-step procedure to prevent Windows from lowering the refresh rate to eye-bleeding level when display modes are changed. In step 4, simply disable the "standard timing" modes that have low refresh rates, and change the minimum rate to your liking. User-friendly, eh ?-)

It sounds to me like (1)

arcite (661011) | more than 4 years ago | (#31052410)

You have never had any serious dental work done. There are plenty of hi-tech advancements that didn't even exist 20 years ago.

Re:It sounds to me like (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31053750)

You have never had any serious dental work done

I think his question is more along the lines of "Why haven't we advanced to the point where we never NEED any serious dental work done"

Re:Hard coating? (4, Interesting)

Spatial (1235392) | more than 4 years ago | (#31052442)

why we don't have vaccination against caries

Last I heard, one is currently in human trials. It works by replacing the bacteria responsible with a different strain that doesn't create lactic acid, and therefore doesn't cause caries.

In tests on rats, it provided a permanent solution. Here's hoping it works out for us too.

Re:Hard coating? (1)

Jesus_666 (702802) | more than 4 years ago | (#31052762)

A few questions remain, though: Are these new bacteria especially hardy? We still need to brush our teeth to avoid calculus buildup and bad breath and auch a replacement therapy isn't very useful if a few brushings kill off enough of them for traditional caries bacteria to take hold again.

I expect the answer to be negative, though - they'll probably see no problem in you having to get a complete mouth disinfection and bacteria placement therapy once a year. Then again, if it's cheap enough (USA)/covered by standard health insurance (everywhere else) I'm fine with it.

Re:Hard coating? (4, Funny)

LtGordon (1421725) | more than 4 years ago | (#31053046)

We still need to brush our teeth to avoid calculus buildup and bad breath

Rationally speaking, brushing a minima of three times a day is integral to good oral hygeine.
rimshot();

Re:Hard coating? (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 4 years ago | (#31053886)

Apparently they are genetically engineered to be dominant, and thus cause the naturally occurring bacteria to die off.

I would love being able to brush less, i haven't found any toothpaste without a strong minty taste... A taste that wakes you up when you try to brush your teeth at night, and when you do it in the morning it leaves a strong taste in your mouth for hours that ruins any food/drink you try to consume.

They're not all minty... (1)

mbessey (304651) | more than 4 years ago | (#31054114)

A lot of toothpastes made for children are fruit-flavored, and Tom's of Maine (http://www.tomsofmaine.com) makes a few non-minty flavors. Also try your local natural foods store - they probably have some wacky flavors.

Re:Hard coating? (1)

amRadioHed (463061) | more than 4 years ago | (#31054196)

Tom's of Maine makes a strawberry flavored kid's toothpaste. It was a little weird using a non-minty toothpaste. You could also try making your own toothpaste and giving it whatever flavor you like.

Re:Hard coating? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31052846)

There are some places in Stockholm where they now use lasers to drill the holes instead of mechanical drilling. It is pretty much painless. Did it last year, and have another appointment in a few weeks. It costs a bit more, but I'd recommend it.

Re:Hard coating? (1)

izomiac (815208) | more than 4 years ago | (#31054074)

That reminds me of a story that one of my organic chemistry professors told about the other. You see, he devised a compound that worked exactly like fluoride, but bound to teeth much more strongly. He'd verified that it worked as intended in his lab and sent a batch off to the medical school for animal testing. Well, a few weeks later he received a call about the experiment.

"I have some good news and some bad news..."
"Well, what's the good news?"
"We've been feeding the rats a diet of pure sucrose and not a single one has a cavity."
"That's great! What's the bad news?"
"Well, we'd like to have your permission to go ahead and euthanize them, they're all dying horrible deaths."


At this point the professor goes ghost white and rushes home. A few days later my other professor inquires about why he did that. It turns out that he was so confident in his invention that he'd been brushing his own teeth with the stuff! A long story short, it turns out that arsenic was used in one of the synthesis steps, and he'd failed to remove all of it from the final product.

Re:Hard coating? pssszt is it safe ??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31054184)

it's a global plot by liberterian dentists on God fearing merkins, who just want a perfect smile.

They are waiting for the gene splicers to come up with the correct sequence to allow you to grow more than two sets of teeth. They wont bother filling then, just whisk the offender out.

Think of of all the lovely loot they will make doing new comestic work on that tooth

Great! (1)

fysdt (1597143) | more than 4 years ago | (#31052064)

Great! If this is a success... I might like going to the dentist :)
Or maybe not..

Just don't cross the streams (3, Funny)

Trip6 (1184883) | more than 4 years ago | (#31052066)

It could unleash a whole evil dental underworld.

Makes me wonder (4, Funny)

HangingChad (677530) | more than 4 years ago | (#31052086)

...researchers took slices of dentin from extracted human molars, doused them with bacteria, and torched them with the plasma jet.

Do you ever wonder how they think up this stuff. Some researcher is sitting around drinking coffee thinking, "Hey, I wonder what would happen if you blasted a cavity with plasma?" How do you even think of questions like that without being stoned?

Then I started wondering if I'm going to be hearing my dentist going, "Pew! Pew! Pew!"

Re:Makes me wonder (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#31052244)

I would guess that you pretty much nailed it, except the guy was probably already obsessed with cavities and came across some information about low temperature plasma.

Re:Makes me wonder (1)

Gibbs-Duhem (1058152) | more than 4 years ago | (#31052610)

What makes you think they weren't stoned...?

Speaking as a scientist, I think that's an untested hypothesis.

Re:Makes me wonder (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 4 years ago | (#31052654)

...researchers took slices of dentin from extracted human molars, doused them with bacteria, and torched them with the plasma jet.

Do you ever wonder how they think up this stuff. Some researcher is sitting around drinking coffee thinking, "Hey, I wonder what would happen if you blasted a cavity with plasma?" How do you even think of questions like that without being stoned?

I just figure they get bored with tiny knives and needles and drills, and they want to take a tiny blowtorch to us now, those sadists ;-)

Re:Makes me wonder (1)

budgenator (254554) | more than 4 years ago | (#31053558)

They used to pore molten lead at 622 degrees F into cavities preps.

Re:Makes me wonder (1)

10Neon (932006) | more than 4 years ago | (#31053062)

They probably read a paper on other medical applications of plasma jets, and thought, "hey, this could apply to my field".

Re:Makes me wonder (1)

Angst Badger (8636) | more than 4 years ago | (#31054012)

"Hey, I wonder what would happen if you blasted a cavity with plasma?" How do you even think of questions like that without being stoned?

I'm assuming the researcher in question happened to have a cool plasma torch and was looking for things to do with it. It's the same instinct that leads people who've learned a new programming language to reimplement some perfectly good existing piece of software for the umpteenth time just to use the language. If you could do dentistry with code, you can bet you'd see PyDrill and JDentures on Freshmeat.

Gay Ninjas ! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31052094)

Any chance these could be hallucinations?
One hallucination flattened me with a clout on the jaw.
That sounds like a painful reality.
Yes.
There must besome logical explanation.
Your signal's weak. Can you turn up your gain?
I'm already on maximum.
Captain, shall I beam down an armed party?
Negative. Our people here are armed with phasers.
Besides, there's yet to be any real danger.
Captain out.
McCoy. McCoy, do you read me?
Kirk to McCoy. Come in.
Captain, take cover!
There's a samurai after me.
I mean, there was...
Captain, you've got to believe me.
I've met some interesting personalities myself.

& Gay Ninjas Floating By My Swimming Pool $

Side effects? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31052136)

What are the side effects? Irradiating my teeth... sounds dangerous. Great if it works though.

This won't replace the drill. (3, Informative)

rdmiller3 (29465) | more than 4 years ago | (#31052156)

The drill isn't just for killing the bacteria inside cavities (called "caries" by dentists). The drill is used to make an undercut hole large enough to get stuffed with filling material. In doing so, it removes not only the bacteria but also the food-material that the bacteria was growing on. A plasma jet won't do either of those things, so they would still need to use a drill.

Re:This won't replace the drill. (1)

yanyan (302849) | more than 4 years ago | (#31052230)

Mod parent up. Not only that, drills are used for reshaping teeth, breaking up large impacted molars, chipping away dental cement, making waiting patients cringe, etc.

Re:This won't replace the drill. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31052336)

The "undercut" you refer to is often not necessary with modern composite restorative materials.
They actually bind with the tooth structure rather than require the mechanical retention which was necessary when using amalgam.

Admittedly the location of some caries requires a mechanically made access opening for full debridement.
Root canal therapy may require mechanical access to the pulpal chamber.
Some teeth can not be removed safely in one piece and have to be sectioned.
Implants require a surgical removal of bone for proper placement of the integrated implant body.
These tasks are currently done with a rotary handpiece driven by compressed air or nitrogen.

Whether lasers or plasma jets or some unknown device will ever replace our handpieces (drills) remains speculation IMHO.

-DDS

Re:This won't replace the drill. (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 4 years ago | (#31052680)

The drill is used to make an undercut hole large enough to get stuffed with filling material.

I think the point is to kill the bacteria before they dissolve a hole big enough in your tooth to require filling. Then again I DNRTFA.
The cleaning would proceed as usual.

cavities (called "caries" by dentists).

(And by the French.)

di34 (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31052220)

that they can# hold O0t how to make the

Not the only use (4, Interesting)

codeguy007 (179016) | more than 4 years ago | (#31052226)

This isn't the only use. I watched an interview with the guy who invented the cool plasma. It can be used to sterilize hands as well. You know the sterilization chamber from Star Trek, the one you enter with your clothes off after coming back from a planet and get eradiated. Well you can do that too with cool plasma.

Re:Not the only use (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 4 years ago | (#31052316)

...after coming back from a planet and get eradiated.

I read that as 'eradicated'
NOT GOOD!

Re:Not the only use (2, Funny)

N3Roaster (888781) | more than 4 years ago | (#31052942)

That only happens if you somehow come back from a planet while wearing red.

Re:Not the only use (1)

daveime (1253762) | more than 4 years ago | (#31053334)

NO ONE wearing red ever returns from an away mission ... fundamental fact of the universe.

Re:Not the only use (1)

corbettw (214229) | more than 4 years ago | (#31052530)

Will it come with Jolene Blalock as an option?

Re:Not the only use (1)

xTantrum (919048) | more than 4 years ago | (#31052884)

I was about to comment on this. didn't /. have a story about this a while back, and one of the aplications was about dentistry among other things? anyone have a link to that original article?

3-5 years? (2, Funny)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 4 years ago | (#31052360)

Make you hate when xkcd [xkcd.com] is right at something.

5 years? phew looks like its gonna happen (0, Redundant)

meow27 (1526173) | more than 4 years ago | (#31052538)

http://xkcd.com/678/

Grounding clamp (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 4 years ago | (#31052790)

Where does the grounding clamp attach?

In a very enthusiastic Billy Mays voice.... (1)

RudeIota (1131331) | more than 4 years ago | (#31052860)

it charges oxygen in the surrounding air

. Wait, is oxi-clean.. plasma?

No 240Hz LED LCD could do that ! (1)

AwaxSlashdot (600672) | more than 4 years ago | (#31052904)

Once again, plasma proves its technically superiority over LCD.

Shakespeare (1)

quotes (1738456) | more than 4 years ago | (#31052906)

For there was never yet philosopher That could endure the toothache patiently.

Holes in cell walls? Yay! (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#31053182)

An inspection via a scanning electron microscope of the damage done to the germs shows bacterial remnants had holes in their cell walls.

I take from that, that it will also put holes it my cells’ walls.
Do. Not. Want!

Re:Holes in cell walls? Yay! (1)

ChrisMP1 (1130781) | more than 4 years ago | (#31053348)

Hmm. I take it your dentist leaves everything completely intact when he uses a dental drill?

Re:Holes in cell walls? Yay! (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 4 years ago | (#31054620)

I take from that, that it will also put holes it my cells' walls.

multi-cellular organism WIN!

plasma drill info (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31053258)

I've had my hands on a prototype.
Bout 2 years ago.
It's kinda a fun thing to do, and most
curiositers can make one at home.

The problem right now is that it requires
tens of liters per minute of air, and 5Kv,
so the physical dimensions are rather large.
This instrument is considered a low energy ion
generator, vs many high energy generators.
( ma vs 100's of amps )

A big ballast is required because the
physics of producing atmosphere plasma at 1 atm
still is not completely understood. It's
difficult to prevent arcing. As a matter
of fact, that's a real reason for getting
continued funding for that research. The "plasma"
pencil can be produced with other physical
constructs of the "gun". This is an
excellent area for some budding physicist to
pursue. Most white papers are about ionization
in vacuum, or using radio frequency excitement.
There are also now ways to generate ions
on microstructures.

The plasm will do things to various
organic structures, but as pointed out will
not remove the decay itself.

The device ionizes the air, but the tip of
the jet is intended to ionize a surface.
A dentist would need no detector. But there
are many other uses where the result would
need to be determined usually with some ion
detector. These are also easy to make.

As a matter of fact, a plasma was considered for
use in the ISS to sterilize interior structures.

To get variants on a theme, use helium, or a
helium/atmosphere mix ( 2% helium). The plasma
mentioned was originally created with 5KV DC
voltages but AC is much more generally preferred
for things like ion cleaning devices, like air
cleaners. As another interesting fact, the
$300 air ionizers use 12KV and the breeze created
is actually generated by the ion generation.
There is no fan.

The plasma ARE cool, and you can stick your hand
right in the purple flame. Lots more info can be
googled.

Re:plasma drill info (1)

daveime (1253762) | more than 4 years ago | (#31053356)

The plasma IS cool, just like the water IS wet, and the fire IS hot.

Mass Nouns are not plural.

Re:plasma drill info (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31054144)

Plasma ARE the plural of the plasm.

The plasm will do things to various
organic structures

Re:plasma drill info (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31055254)

'Plasm' is biology. This is physics. There is no such thing as "plasm" in this context. You are incorrect.

Plasma IS ionized gas. The plural is plasmas, when dealing with set of different types. Just like the gas IS and the gases ARE. The liquid IS and the liquids ARE. The plasma IS and the plasmas ARE.

but lasers are already used (1)

SuperDre (982372) | more than 4 years ago | (#31053324)

But at the moment lasers are also an alternative to drills for quite some years now, and are also less invasive/painfull as drills.. But seeing how many dentists here in the Netherlands are using lasers I guess the use of a plasma device will not happen for more than a decade after it is introduced in practices.. So I guess we'll have to remain being scared of the dentist for quite some time...

The bright shiny future. (2, Funny)

ErikZ (55491) | more than 4 years ago | (#31053944)

This adds a whole new layer of meaning when your Dentist goes "Whoops!"

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>