Dentistry, College of


Date of this Version



Dimensions of Dental Hygiene (March 2010) 8(3): 32, 34-36, 40.


Copyright 2010, Belmont Publications. Used by permission.


Air polishing has been available for four decades, however, the concept is based on a technology invented by Dr. Robert Black in 1945. Dr. Black invented the Air Dent, a device that used compressed air, water, and a highly abrasive powder to eliminate pain from cavity preparation, making anesthesia unnecessary. The Air Dent had numerous problems that could not be overcome, but Dr. Black never gave up on his idea. The technology he invented became the basis of air polishing and was first marketed in 1976. By the late 1970s, air polishing was readily available.

Air polishing represents the most significant addition to the polishing armamentarium since the introduction of handpieces and prophylaxis angles. Air polishing is accomplished by the propulsion of abrasive particles through a mixture of compressed air and water through a handpiece nozzle.1 Kinetic energy propels the air polishing paste particles against the tooth surface—removing stain and dental plaque.