Dentists’ offices have long been known for their fear factor. Being stuck in a chair while someone hovers over you with a drill is something that can tap into many people’s innate fears. For many years, patients were simply required to put up with such discomfort. However, dentists eventually realized that anxiety prevented many people from receiving the care that they desperately needed. Therefore, modern dentistry utilizes new tools and techniques to make dental treatments free of both pain and fear.
The first part of fear free dentistry is to keep the patient relaxed and calm. Psychologists who studied dental patients found that much of their anxiousness and pain came from where they were positioned and the fact that they couldn’t really see what was happening to them. The solution was to install television sets in locations that the patients could see. This allows patients to watch their favorite TV shows or nature documentaries during dental procedures. Peaceful scenes and cheerful comedies helped to keep a patient relaxed and distracted. This method has been extended to goggles and headphones that display pleasant images and play comforting music. In some locations, patients can even choose the music and videos or bring them from home.
Another big advance is in the realm of painkillers. Dentists were among the first to adopt pain relievers like ether and morphine (as early as the 19th century). However, these drugs were both extremely powerful and extremely unpredictable. Modern medications can be spot-delivered to specific locations in the mouth to allow for just the right amount of numbing in the right place. Pain free dentistry also includes full-body anesthetics and muscle relaxants for people who are genuinely unable to calm down. This is good for both the patient and the dentist as well, as it enables them to work more closely and effectively with the patient. Often, dental work that would ordinarily take several appointments can be done in a single day when these “sedation dentistry” methods are utilized.
And, of course, the drill has also been updated. Fear free dentistry involves laser drills instead of the traditional mechanical ones, which are very noisy and, for many people, very frightening. Laser drills work faster as well as being almost completely silent. Furthermore, thanks to increased precision, they are much more effective than mechanical drills.
Advances in pain and fear free dentistry have shown marked success. Dentists are now able to operate more finely on damaged teeth because they have better tools and because the patients are calm and free of pain. While getting dental work done will probably never be a favorite activity, modern dentistry can be both pain and fear free. It has gone a long way in ensuring patients and dentists find the experience to be much more pleasant and effective. Of course, the biggest benefit of these new methods is that many people who would otherwise be afraid to go to the dentist can now obtain the sort of dental care that they need and deserve.
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