Plasma jet to replace dentist's drill

Researchers in Germany have come up with a "plasma jet" tool for dentists, which can eradicate cavities in the mouth just as efficiently as the traditional drill, but without the pain and fear that it usually causes in patients.

The jet comprises of a beam of oxygen ions that are blasted into the tooth cavity, which then annihilate any bacteria down there. The researchers tested the process with Streptococcus mutans and Lactobacillus casei - common dental bacteria - and found it to be highly effective. A six-to-eighteen second blast of the plasma reduced levels of the bacteria by up to 10,000 times.

Lead researcher Dr Stefan Rupf, from Saarland University in Homburg, said: "The low temperature means they can kill the microbes while preserving the tooth. The dental pulp at the centre of the tooth, underneath the dentine, is linked to the blood supply and nerves and heat damage to it must be avoided at all costs".

 The plasma jet could be rolled out to dental surgeries within as little as three years, so if you're seriously phobic of the drill, then it could be alright to start eating sweets again. Just don't blame us if your surgery doesn't switch immediately to the new tool.