The word ‘dentist’ instantly triggers thoughts of pain in the minds of most patients. Those with less than adequate dental health, harbouring teeth that need extractions, endodontic (root canal) therapy, periodontal intervention (gum diseases) will find a trip to the dentist, a nightmare. Hence it gives me great pleasure as a dentist, to introduce to you, these little angels of dentistry or dental technology miracles.
Most members of the general public perceive a good dentist as a practitioner who causes little or no discomfort. Likewise, dentists are on a lookout for these effective tools as they allow them to focus solely on operative procedures without distractions from pain induced patient movements. So all those of you who have stayed away from your dentist despite being in dental discomfort, feel free to discuss these options with your dentist.
I personally consider the local anaesthesia to be the biggest blessing to dentistry. I could almost term it to be the backbone of clinical dentistry. Even though local anaesthesia was introduced to the dental profession more than one hundred years ago, today’s options for anaesthetizing specific sites in the mouth have become more varied, with dental professionals having many more options to ensure the comfort and safety of their patients. Patients who have undergone surgical and endodontic treatment under Local anaesthesia do not feel a thing during the procedure. Many times dentists get this surprised look from the patient when the tooth is already out of their mouth and they dint even know it. After the numbing effect of the anaesthesia wears off, the patient is transferred to analgesic therapy (painkiller medication).
Topical Anaesthesia – Spray or Gel
This helpful agent comes as a prequel to the local anaesthesia prick. They are applied to the oral surface a few minutes prior to taking the local anaesthesia injection. They are effective up to a depth of 2 to 3 mm and are successful in reducing the discomfort of the initial penetration of the needle into the mucosa. What’s more! They are available in interesting flavors such as strawberry and bubble gum.
The Dental Vibe is a hand held device that is designed to alleviate the pain and fear of dental injections. The dental vibe works on a mechanism of producing mild type of vibrations on the oral mucosa and the sensation of these vibrations reach the brain faster than the sensation of the prick of the injection thereby superseding the pain. Hence the brain only receives the sensation of the vibration. It does not feel the pain at all! The sound of the vibration also distracts the patient and the vibration as such helps in dissipating the anaesthesia.
This a mild form of sedation in dentistry. When you breathe Nitrous Oxide, otherwise known as laughing gas, combined with oxygen through a mask placed over your nose, you feel instantly relaxed and still interact with your dentist. The calming effect does wonders to anxious patients and can even be safely used in children. An IV sedation will work more quickly. The effect of nitrous oxide wears off quickly and it is the only sedation in which the patient can drive back home after the procedure.
Radio Visio Graphy (RVGs) or Digital X-rays
Digital X-rays are a boon to the dentist and patient alike. The cumbersome procedure of developing and fixing X-rays was time consuming for both parties. Digital X-rays are much faster and require 90% less radiation than traditional X-ray units. The image appears on a computer screen in a matter of seconds and is a great oral educational tool for the patient.
Most people get a chance to correct the alignment of their malocclusions (imperfect positioning of the teeth) only much later in their post teens and adulthood. That is exactly the phase of life when you don’t want to be seen with ugly metal braces. With this new era of transparent braces or aligners (like Invisalign or Clearpath) all you have to do is wear a series of clear wafer thin transparent removable aligners, which gently guide your teeth from their present to the desired position to give you the perfect smile you always wanted! They don’t have a restriction with what type of food to eat. They get the job done in less time with less hassle.
Hate the dental drill? Who doesn’t?! But for those of you who easily are apprehensive, Air Abrasion will help you overcome your difficulty. You may be pleasantly surprised to discover that air abrasion, an alternative to drills, is available for many dental procedures. The air abrasion hand piece comes in various sizes and works similar to a sandblaster. The tooth is subjected to a powerful blow of tiny aluminium oxide particles in air and this help in removing particles of decay on the tooth surface. The patient feels no vibrations or pain.
The advantages of this system is similar to the air abrasion. It relieves you from the sound of the drill, the pain and vibration. The WaterLase combines water, air and laser energy for safe use in the mouth. When the laser makes contact with the tooth it excites the water molecules to cut through the tooth. Since the laser continuously sprays out water it keeps the tooth hydrated preventing heat and giving you a virtually pain free experience! This procedure can be used for most dental treatments.
Dental technologies are ever expanding and soon there will be a Dental Miracles List 2. Watch this space.