Abrasive materials used in Dentistry and their Uses

An essential component of dental treatments is a dental abrasive. This area of expertise focuses on the polishing and finishing of direct dental restorative materials as well as complete dentures, detachable partial dentures, crowns, and bridges. Effective polishing and finishing of direct or indirect dental restorations may contribute to not only good oral health and the durability of the restorative material but also good aesthetics.  

This review offers an overview of fundamental concepts based on dental abrasives and is based on modern technology and materials used in dentistry. The ultimate goal is to increase knowledge and understanding of the concepts and instruments that can be used to generate an ideal surface finishing and polishing in dental restorative treatments.

Abrasive materials are commonly used in dentistry for a variety of indications, including tooth whitening, removal of dental plaque and calculus (tartar), polishing of tooth surfaces, and management of occasional tooth sensitivity. The use of abrasives in dentistry has been shown to be effective and safe when performed by a trained professional. Abrasive materials come in many forms, including powders, pastes, gels, strips, and particles embedded in toothpaste or other products. The type of abrasive material used will depend on the specific indication being treated

Abrasive materials can be divided into two main categories: natural abrasives and synthetic abrasives. Natural abrasives include sand, gravel, and limestone. Synthetic abrasives include aluminum oxide, silicon carbide, and diamond dust. Each type of abrasive has its own unique set of properties that make it well-suited for specific dental applications. For example, sand is a very coarse abrasive that is typically used to remove heavy stains from teeth. In contrast, diamond dust is a very fine abrasive that is often used to polish teeth to a high shine. By understanding the different types of abrasives available, dentists can select the best material for each patient’s individual needs.

Materials used in Dentistry

These instruments are mostly comprised of three materials:

  1. Aluminium Oxide 
  2. Silicon Carbide 
  3. Diamond Grit

The non-diamond abrasives produce effective results when used to remove, shape, and polish dental materials. Because it won’t result in discoloration, silicon carbide is typically the preferred abrasive for gold, acrylic, and porcelain. The material of preference for composites and enamel is aluminum oxide.

Diamond abrasives cost more, last longer, work more quickly, and produce a mirror polish. Metals, zirconia, porcelain, and ceramic are best handled by these tools.

Finishing and polishing tools are available in a variety of shapes that are appropriate for particular materials, methods, or restoration areas, just like diamonds and carbides. Therefore, both the method and the dental material to be used will influence the choice of instrument material and shape.

The most often used option for finishing and polishing composites is flexible mylar discs and strips formed of aluminum oxide, also known as composite discs/strips.

For interproximal finishing and polishing on all materials, diamond strips are a reusable, robust substitute for mylar strips.

For professionals who favor using point- and cup-shaped instruments, diamond single-step and two-step systems are also available for composites. These could be single-use, throwaway devices or multiple-use, autoclavable equipment. Single-use goods are more practical, whereas multi-use tools are more cost-effective. The two-step systems take longer but should give the restoration a greater luster and shine.

Porcelain polishers can be produced from diamond or aluminum oxide and typically come in three grits (coarse, medium, and fine). Although more affordable, aluminum oxide porcelain polishers are less effective and need more time to use. The most recent restorative materials respond better to the diamond porcelain polishers. For every procedure, both types include points, cups, and discs.

Because it won’t result in discoloration, silicon carbide is the preferred material for amalgam/gold polishers and acrylic polishers. Various polishers are available in several forms that work well with these materials.

Cutting discs and grinding and finishing abrasives offer quick contouring and finishing. To operate well with particular dental materials, they are constructed of aluminum oxide, silicon carbide, and diamond: Diamond abrasives for ceramic, zirconia, and aluminum restorations. Green stones (silicon carbide) for porcelain, composites, and gold/silver. White stones (aluminum oxide) for enamel, composites, and porcelain.

Abrasive materials may be made from natural or synthetic compounds or a combination of both. Common natural abrasives include diamonds, volcanic sand, and pumice; common synthetic abrasives include calcium carbonate, silica, alumina, and zirconia. Abrasive materials are typically available over the counter; however, some products may require a prescription. It is important to follow the directions on the product label or as directed by your dentist or another healthcare provider. Improper use of abrasive materials can damage tooth enamel or other tissues in the mouth.

Final Thoughts:

In conclusion, abrasives are a vital part of many dental procedures. Without them, many common procedures would be much more difficult, if not impossible. While there are many different types of abrasives, each with its own unique properties, they all have one thing in common: the ability to remove unwanted material from teeth. 

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