What is air abrasion?

Air abrasion

Air abrasion is a gentle spray of an air and powder mixture that removes tooth decay. It is a fast, pain-free alternative to a typical dental drill to repair small cavities. It is recommended for very small cavities as it removes less of your natural tooth than a dental drill and can prevent micro-cracks from occurring. The procedure is virtually painless, as the dentist can control the speed and intensity of the powder and air stream, and usually requires no freezing. Besides fillings, air abrasion is also useful for repairing chipped, fractured, and worn teeth, preparing for cosmetic dentistry, removing stains and spots, repairing old fillings and sealants, children’s dentistry, and repairing broken crowns and bridges.

What to Expect

The procedure is almost always painless, and you will not require local anesthetic. A thin stream of abrasive powder is directed at the area of decay on the tooth to remove it without odour, noise or vibration (compared to a dental drill). After the area is removed, it will be cleaned, prepped and filled with a tooth-coloured composite material and hardened with a UV light.


Your tooth will look and function just as it did before the procedure. The filling will strengthen and protect the remaining tooth structure and prevent further decay from occurring. Since air abrasion does not usually require freezing, you will not have numbness or drooping lips afterwards. Tooth-coloured fillings last on average 5 to 7 years, or even longer with proper oral hygiene and regular dental visits.