Figure 3-13.Air polishing unit.
orthodontic bands and brackets are applied. Air
polishing of enamel also increases resin bond strength
when used before acid etching for sealants and other
The three major components of the unit are the air
polishing delivery system, foot-controlled switch, and
handpiece assembly. Some newer models combine the air
polishing and ultrasonic systems. In such units, additional
components and controls exist because the units are
combined (fig. 3-14). The combination handpiece
assembly has separate openings to accommodate the
scaling and polishing inserts (fig. 3-15). The operation
and maintenance of the combined unit are the same as
the two independent units.
Keep the handpiece tip approximately 4mm to
5mm from the tooth surface being cleaned. Center the
spray on the middle one-third of the tooth and use a
constant circular motion. The edge of the spray will
Figure 3-14.Combined ultrasonic scaler and air polishing
Figure 3-15.Handpiece assembly of an air polishing unit.
clean the tooth surface near the gingiva. The
angulation of the handpiece tip to the surface varies
according to the different locations of the teeth.
On the facial and lingual surfaces of all posterior
teeth, direct the handpiece slightly distally at an 80°
angle toward the gingiva (fig. 3-16). On the facial and
lingual surfaces of all anterior teeth, direct the
handpiece at a 60° angle toward the gingiva (fig. 3-16).
For all occlusal surfaces, direct the handpiece at a 90°
angle to the surface.
Precautions and Contraindications
You must be concerned with several precautions
and contraindications to the use of the air polishing
system. Avoid direct contact of the cleaning jet with
soft tissue. This could seriously and unnecessarily
harm mucosa or gingiva. To preclude possible soft
tissue emphysema or air embolism effects, never direct
the tip into the sulcus. Sodium bicarbonate air
polishing of highly polished metal restorations will
leave a matte (dull) finish. Avoid prolonged use of this
system on cementum or dentin. Consult with a dentist
Figure 3-16.Angulation of the air polishing handpiece tip on
facial and lingual surfaces of anterior and posterior teeth.