One of the most sophisticated uses of the airbrush is in the field of dentistry. The airbrush in dental work is used mostly to do three things: clean, repair and decorate teeth. The key to airbrush use in dentistry centers on the compressor. A 1 hp 2.61 cfm at 120 psi compressor is commonly used. It may sometimes be included in the dentist's main console with the airbrush already attached, or it may be installed as a separate piece of equipment. It is also used for other precision instruments that the dentist uses. If a separate airbrush is used, a Bottom Feed single action internal mix airbrush is preferred.
Using the airbrush to clean the teeth is a simple process that makes use of the air pressure to spray water on the teeth and gums, especially for the parts that are hard to reach. An astringent or mouthwash may sometimes be added to the water being sprayed through the brush.
In repairing teeth, dentists use the airbrush to coat crowns and implants with porcelains and veneers. At times, the material used for coating may be of such high viscosity that dentists prefer to use an airbrush with an external mix. Another use for the airbrush is in a recent development known as Dental Air Abrasion. This method, first developed in the 1940's but sidelined in favor of another device called the air rotor (aka the drill) has gotten a second life and is growing in popularity among dental practitioners. Dental air abrasion works by blowing a stream of fine particles, 27 microns in size and acting like a tiny sandblaster, at the section of the tooth that is decaying. In doing so, it blows away the decaying particles of the tooth and gives it a thorough cleaning. The cleaning particles used in air abrasion are made of silica, aluminum oxide or a mixture of baking soda. Some systems are testing the addition of water to the mix.
A third dental application of the airbrush is in creating dental tattoos, also referred to as “dental bling”. Dental tattoos are designs, some simple others intricate, that are painted on dental crowns. The crowns are then sealed and set on the teeth. After the dentist makes a mold of the tooth, the mold is sent to a dental lab which makes the crown. The dental lab then paints the chosen design on the crown. For this type of delicate design work, a Siphon Style Side Feed internal mix airbrush is used. The air pressure of the compressor is much lower at 15 – 20 psi than the air pressure for other types of dental work and instruments. Lacquer based paints are used for dental tattooing. The designs can range from simple stars or symbols to butterflies and facial portraits. While dentists usually place a crown to repair a damaged or decayed, a dental tattoo may be placed on a perfectly healthy tooth to serve purely as decoration.