Karen davis, BSDH, RDH
I am a born-again low-abrasive air polishing dental hygienist. I make no qualms about advocating this novel method of biofilm removal to all dental professionals. The evidence supports it, and my job and the patient experience became a lot easier once I shifted appointment protocols to remove biofilm first by using low-abrasive glycine powder to air polish the “enemy” away. For years I have had “erythritol envy” of dental hygienists outside the United States who were able to use erythritol low-abrasive powder rather than glycine on their patients. Now that erythritol powder is FDA-approved and available to all US dental professionals, I’m preaching its benefits.
So what’s the big deal about erythritol air polishing powder? Isn’t glycine good enough? Some of you reading this column have already experienced the new Hu-Friedy Air-Flow Plus powder in your air polishing devices. For those of you who have not, its implications are pretty amazing!
First, let’s revisit glycine. It is still a fantastic, safe, comfortable powder for use in air-polishing devices designed for low-abrasive powders, so some clinicians may elect to stick with glycine. So, why does this new erythritol powder include “plus” in the name? That’s because the potential of erythritol powder extends beyond biofilm and stain removal. Like glycine, erythritol powder obliterates biofilm safely and effectively. But it also has anticariogenic, antibiofilm, and antioxidant properties, and is more efficient in stain and biofilm removal compared to glycine. Additionally, erythritol has antibacterial potential against specific pathogens. So, air polishing first with erythritol powder has the potential for additional benefits over simply removing biofilm and stains.