Medicine: Open Wider

In Manhattan last week, Columbia University's School of Dental and Oral Surgery announced a new, virtually painless dental drill, the Cavitron. Designed to replace the nerve-wracking metal burr, the pencil-shaped Cavitron is quieter and quicker.

The new drill grinds no metal against teeth or gum tissues. Instead, a liquid containing fine particles (usually of aluminum oxide) is forced against the tooth by ultrasonic vibrations (29,000 per sec.) of the Cavitron's tiny steel tip, and these particles neatly bore into the tooth without noise or pressure.

Columbia's dentists consider the new tool a major advance toward completely painless dentistry, but before the Cavitron goes...

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