One hygienist’s take on the benefits of Hu-Friedy’s AIR-FLOW Handy 3.0 Premium, a handheld air polishing device.
Polishing is no longer just about the esthetic benefits like removing stains-it’s also about removing biofilm. That’s why Nancy Miller, RDH, began using the AIR-FLOW Handy 3.0 Premium handheld air polishing device from Hu-Friedy about three years ago. The portable unit does both, which benefits both her and her patients.
What first attracted you to AIR-FLOW Handy 3.0 Premium?
In the last 15 years or so, we’ve learned so much more about what plaque is in terms of biofilm. It’s really a whole community that defies disruption and removal, and that means instrumentation of the past isn’t enough. There are so many nooks and crannies on teeth and around implants and restorations, it’s difficult to totally remove everything.
The idea behind AIR-FLOW is to go in with a pressure washer, like you would if you were restaining your deck. You could try to use a brush and scrub and prep the deck by hand, but it wouldn’t be as effective as a pressure washer. AIR-FLOW Handy 3.0 more efficiently removes biofilm from all the little intriguing spots we have in our mouths.
How does using this device make your job easier?
We depended on rubber cup polishing for many years, which has its pros and cons. That method removed biofilm, but supragingival only. Rubber cup polishing takes more time and doesn’t go subgingival. By using this device, I can more efficiently and effectively take off soft deposits and light stains before using different instruments to remove hard deposits. Doing that at the beginning saves me five to 10 minutes of instrument time at the end of the appointment. That time is so valuable when you only have an hour with the patient.
What is the benefit of polishing at the beginning of the appointment instead of at the end?
From the patient’s perspective, polishing is cosmetic and it’s important to them because they want nice looking teeth. From our perspective as clinicians, we’re trying to heal and to promote good oral health, so it’s more important to do a thorough job of removing the biofilm. It’s easier to take the soft deposits off with AIR-FLOW than it is with hand instruments. You can get the whole mouth clean with AIR-FLOW, and then remove what’s left with a hand instrument or an ultrasonic scaler.
What’s the benefit for the patient?
I like to say this isn’t your grandmother’s air polisher. In the past when we used an air polisher, it was gritty and not so pleasant for the patient. AIR-FLOW uses Glycine Powder, which is a smaller particle size than what was used when the focus was on just stain removal. Because of the smaller particle size, we can aim the spray right at the gum tissue. If we did that before, it would lead to bleeding and could even damage dental work. Now, we can use AIR-FLOW around titanium implants and the beautiful dentistry we have today without damaging surfaces. It’s also more comfortable for the patient. It doesn’t hurt and it’s not messy.
After a polishing, patients don’t say their mouth feels squeaky clean anymore; they say it feels silky clean. AIR-FLOW removes biofilm and stains and buffs the surface of their teeth. They can feel that with their tongue. They get a super clean feeling and it doesn’t take as much time.
Why should other hygienists use the AIR-FLOW Handy?
I encourage hygienists to work smarter, not harder. Why make your hands and wrists work harder with hand instruments when you have a power tool that can speed up the process? It’s a paradigm shift.
This is the latest tool in the battle against biofilm. If we’re really talking about healing and being efficient, it’s critical to use this device.