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03 January 2005

Sting taken out of visits to the dentist

It’s no fun allowing strangers with sharp tools near sensitive parts of your body. But thanks to some recent advances in technology there’s less to be afraid of than ever.

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It’s no fun allowing strangers with sharp tools near sensitive parts of your body. But thanks to some recent advances in technology there’s less to be afraid of than ever.

After filling in tax returns, visiting the dentist probably rates only on most blokes’ idea of a good time. It’s not that we think it’s a bad idea – most people are very in favour of dental hygiene – we’d just rather it weren’t happening to us.

From our hairy, odiferous past in which we outran mammoths, to the unease we feel at the sight of holiday traffic jams, Michael Jackson, blocked drains and dentist’s drills, human nature tells us to steer clear of stuff that might harm us.

New developments in oral anaesthaesia
Well, it may be time to get over all that self-preservation stuff. A number of new developments do away with the need for the menacing, vaguely Spanish Inquisistion-ish squeal of the dentist’s drill and the injection of local anaesthetic that customarily precedes it.

Anaesthetising the mouth is already a lot less painful than it was. Many dentists now rub some gel onto the gum before injecting the anaesthetic. But soon that too may be unnecessary in many dental procedures.

Laser makes dental work pain-free
Already popular in the Far East, the use of a disinfectant, activated by laser, to kill instead bacteria instead of drilling it out is set to become globally popular. Laser’s expensive, but dentists who invest in it are likely to have patients flocking to them in search of pain-free dental work. The technique is simple enough: a laser beam is directed onto the decayed area of the tooth, zapping the bacteria that caused the decay.

A porous sealant is applied and the patient goes home with some tooth mousse, which is rubbed onto the tooth each day to aid the growth of the tooth, essentially helping the tooth to heal itself.

The sealant prevents the tooth from feeling sensitive to heat and cold, but being porous, it allows in the mousse, which is a derivative of milk, to provide the tooth with calcium and fluoride, the Telegraph website reports.

Apart from holding attraction for adults who’re either squeamish or just in touch with their caveman side, the obvious benefit is for children. The procedure is no more daunting than having a light shone into one's mouth.

Laser’s also useful because it reduces the amount of bleeding suffered, and as a result, cuts the risk of infection – and there’s no drilling noise.

It won’t completely replace the dentist’s drill – there are some procedures where the song of the whine will still rule.

(William Smook)

 
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