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In addition to the big three — aluminum oxide, silicon carbide and diamonds — a host of natural and synthetic abrasives are available to dentists. They include:
- Arkansas Stone: Light gray, siliceous sedimentary rock containing microcrystalline quartz. Can be used to finely grind enamel and metal alloys.
- Chalk: Containing calcium carbonate, this is a mineral form of calcite. It is a mild, white abrasive used to polish plastics, amalgams, gold foil and enamel.
- Corundum: Usually white, it is the mineral form of aluminum oxide and may be called “white stone.” It is used in grinding metal alloys as a bonded abrasive. In today’s practice, it has mostly been replaced by aluminum oxide due to its better physical properties.
- Emery: Corundum that ranges from gray to black. Used on coated abrasive discs to finish metals and acrylic resins.
- Garnet: As an abrasive, it is generally a combination of silicate of aluminum, cobalt, iron, magnesium and manganese. Used to grind metal alloys and acrylic resin, it is typically dark red, very hard, and found on coated discs.
- Pumice: Siliceous volcanic material used to polish enamel, acrylic resins, amalgam and gold foil. It is usually applied either as loose grit or in bonded abrasives. Quartz: Crushed quartz crystalline particles. Used to make coated abrasive discs to finish metal alloys or grind enamel.
- Sand: A potpourri of tiny silica particles. Used in sandblasting on base metal castings and on coated discs for grinding metal alloys and acrylic resin.
- Tripoli: Lightweight siliceous sedimentary rock that may be white, gray, pink, red or yellow. Crushed into fine particles, it is often used to form compounds for polishing metals and acrylics.
- Zirconium Silicate: A mineral that is off-white in color. Ground into a range of grit sizes for use in making coated abrasive discs and strips and in prophy pastes.
- Cuttle: White powder made from a marine mollusk shell. Used in coated abrasives and for marginal polishing.
- Kieselguhr: The siliceous remnants of aquatic plants. Sometimes used as a mild abrasive.
- Rouge: A red, iron oxide-based fine abrasive. Blended with binders to form a cake for polishing noble metal alloys.
- Tin Oxide: A very fine abrasive; used in polishing enamel, metal restorations.
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