Research into the science behind ultrasonic scalers, used by dental professionals to remove built up plaque, has identified that the formation of tiny bubbles around the head is key to the cleaning process.
The bubble formation, or cavitation, of water around the head of the scaler was observed using high speed cameras. Scalers of differing power, and head shape, were used and compared to quantify the patterns of cavitation.
The lead author of the paper that was published in PLOS one is Nina Vyas a PhD student from the PSIBS training centre with a project on ultrasonic scaling. The overall project is an interdisciplinary research work that includes Mathematics and is led by Prof Walmsley in Dentistry. Her work using high-speed cameras has shown how cavitation removes the biofilm from the tooth. This opens up the concept of a non-touch technique when cleaning teeth and implants. The story has been well received on the Internet especially when ScienceDaily covered it on their site.