By: Laurie Edwards for Dental1.org
Fear of going to the dentist is a common problem that can lead to more serious dental issues if not addressed. While it is important to recognize what causes these fears in order to alleviate them, technology is lending a helping hand as well. Innovative and less obtrusive techniques are available that decrease pain and minimize unpleasantness, which experts hope will quash such fears before they even begin.
|How to reduce anxiety about going to the dentist:|
Talk with your dentist beforehand to ask questions and raise your concerns. This way you will be well informed about what to expect and your dentist may be able to alleviate some of your fears.
In order to feel more in control of the situation, arrange a signal with your dentist to stop what he is doing.
Use a mirror to watch the procedure or ask your dentist to explain what he is doing as he goes along. Sometimes what you imagine is far worse than what is really going on.
Bring a warm blanket, a CD of relaxing music, or a friend.
The cycle of fear most often begins in childhood. When children overhear supposed “horror stories” about dental visits, they approach their own visits with preconceived fear. What is more difficult to counteract is when an adult experienced a painful dental visit as a child and carries that fear and anxiety into adulthood.
One of the best ways to alleviate these fears is communication. Discussing fears with the staff gives them a chance to respond to patient anxieties and perceptions and collaborate on ways to ensure patient needs are met.
Along with communication is education, which entails asking questions and understanding dental procedures/treatment options, an effective way to minimize this fear of the unknown.
Perhaps the most recognizable sound in a dentist’s office – and often the most feared – is that of the drill. New laser technology aims to ensure quicker, more comfortable and cleaner dental procedures. One such tool is the Waterlase MD, a laser that uses water to gently scrub away plaque and decay.
Basically, the laser splits molecules of water and then directs them at cavities. The sound of the water hitting the teeth makes popping sounds, a more pleasant alternative to the typical screech of a vibrating drill. Using a laser beam to shoot the water particles at the teeth means that the new drill never actually touches a patient’s tooth.
“One of the biggest things in dentistry is the fear of the drill,” said Wisconsin dentist Dr. Glen Magyera, who learned about the laser technology at an American Dental Association conference. “This eliminates that.”
“There is no anesthesia. The patient doesn’t have to have a shot. They don’t have to walk out of the office with a numb face or a numb lip or a numb tongue,” said Dr. Corey Evans, a Salt Lake practitioner.
Magyera added that the main drawback to the laser is that it cannot be used on mercury fillings since it will melt them onto the teeth. The laser isn’t appropriate for routine cleanings, but is effective when used in root canals, gum surgery and more cosmetic procedures such as smile design and soft tissue procedures.
There are many other new tools and resources that take most of the pain out of a visit to the dentist. For example, there is a greater variety of local anesthetics and methods to deliver them to patients, including thinner, a streamlined syringe. Anesthetics also act more quickly and provide longer-lasting pain relief.
Experts also suggest listening to relaxing music or bringing a portable CD player if a patient still experiences fear and anxiety despite these new innovations and less intrusive treatment options.