Show of hands, who likes going to the dentist?
I didn’t think so. I think it’s safe to say that many people don’t generally find visits to the dentist to be an overall agreeable experience. Kids complain about the pain and the anxiety they suffer from all the tools that a dentist uses. And who can blame them? Sitting helplessly in a chair while a stranger probes around your mouth with pointy objects hardly sounds like living the life to me, either. And adults…well, they complain about a lot of the same things. Adults just happen to complain about the monetary aspect of it as well. After all, dental appointments aren’t exactly cheap affairs without insurance. Sometimes they’re expensive even if you are insured.
Luckily, a lot of that anxiety is steadily being tossed out the window with the onset of newer technologies. While most adults remember the days of dentists using picks and drills to navigate and clean their teeth and complicated procedures spanning multiple appointments, many people now get to enjoy less painful procedures that often only require one visit with minimal outpatient care. Most of the hand-held tools that used to be associated by default with the pain brought on from dentists now have a more tolerable alternative. For example, those aforementioned picks and drills used to clean teeth and prep them for fillings have started being placed to the wayside in favor of a tool called diode lasers. Beyond reducing the pain inflicted on patients, the benefits seem to outweigh the risks monumentally. By using a laser, the dentist can minimize exposure to bacteria during a procedure as well as reduce bleeding that may otherwise occur while cleaning or during treatment of the gums.
With that said, there are a some disadvantages to be noted. For one, practitioners need to be mindful of a laser’s potential for overheating during its use, particularly during procedures that require tissue removal. Lasers can also be more troublesome to use depending on accessibility to affected areas. They also have trouble interacting with various materials that can make up crowns or veneers. For the dentists themselves, laser-oriented instruments can also be more of a financial investment and require more space as the instruments themselves are known to range dramatically in size.
If it’s all the same, however, minimizing the pain that had normally been associated with visits to the dentists and the anxiety it caused is a universal positive. Even if it means that some procedures may take more time due to the tools being used, a smaller need for drills or shots of anesthesia will always be welcome. And all this is just the tip of the iceberg with advances in technology for dental services. X-rays now use electronic sensors that are placed in the mouth, reducing exposure to radiation from traditional X-ray methods. It also allows for almost-instantly available X-rays for the dentists. And because they are stored electronically, X-rays are easier to compare in order to see differences between appointments. Dentists have also utilized different materials for veneers and crowns, making them look more natural to normal teeth than the typical gold or metallic-looking modifications that you might have been stuck with even as recently as 10 years ago.
On the whole, it seems that the stigma of fear that was once associated with dentist appointments has been seriously curbed. While we can’t offer much for the financial aspect of it, at least you can rest more easily the next time you’re sitting in the reclining chair under that bright light.