Fear of the dentist is fairly common. Peter Milgrom, DDS, author of Treating Fearful Dental Patients, says that around 20 percent of people experience dental anxiety to the extent that they’ll only go to the dentist if absolutely necessary. Milgrom estimates that between 5 and 8 percent of Americans avoid dentists altogether because of fear.
Dr. Michael W. Stuart of Legacy Smiles in Billings, MT, understands this and has taken steps to introduce technology that makes for a painless dental experience.
Why Do People Fear The Dentist?
Some people fear the dentist because they’ve had a bad experience. For some of these people, the bad experience might have happened years ago when dental technology was not as advanced as it is now. Now they’re too afraid to come back to the dentist, even though dental technology has made enormous strides and continues to do so every day.
Another reason people fear the dentist has more to do with the fear of not being in control. When you’re in the dentist’s chair, you can hardly talk or respond. For a lot of people that creates anxiety.
Still other people have a dental phobia that stems from the fear of a specific piece of dental equipment: the drill. The dental drill can be one of the most uncomfortable parts of a dental procedure because of the way it sounds,the pressure, and the vibrations it makes.
The staff at Legacy Smiles investigates every avenue of dentistry to make sure your next appointment is comfortable. Painless dentistry is our goal, whether you’re coming in for a filling or a root canal.
One piece of good news for people with dental phobia has come along and Dr. Michael Stuart has introduced it into his practice: the WaterLase dental laser.
Why The Drill Makes Anesthesia Necessary
A traditional dental drill is a small, high-speed drill that’s usually used to remove decay and shape tooth structure, among other things. The drill uses bits known as burrs. These burrs are usually made of steel but sometimes they’ll have a diamond coating. Modern dental drills can rotate at up to 400,000 rpm.
Drills emit a high-pitched, shrill sound that many people are familiar with. In fact, that sound plays a big part in people’s fear of the dentist. The sound of a dental drill might be one of the best-known, and most-dreaded, sounds there is.
The drill works by using friction. That friction causes heat and can trigger pain. It also creates a vibration that can be uncomfortable for some people. It’s for these reasons that we numb a patient’s mouth. (Interestingly enough, the numbness associated with a dental procedure is another reason many people dislike going to the dentist.)
Even though the dental drill is a precise instrument, one possible side effect is that its vibrations can also cause unintended damage to surrounding healthy tissue.
What is WaterLase?
WaterLase uses laser technology,water, and air to shape target tissue without the heat, vibration, and pressure that a traditional drill causes. Because of this, the need to use an anesthetic is eliminated.
In our desire to give our patients the best possible dental experience, we have become big fans of WaterLase technology. WaterLase is the secret to pain-free dentistry and is another example of how far dental technology has come.
Here’s how it works: Tooth enamel is made up of up to 5 percent water. The WaterLase combines a laser and water to cut through the tooth.
WaterLase has none of the issues we talked about above. You won’t feel vibrations associated,and you won’t feel the heat because the water will keep your tooth cool and hydrated.
What Can WaterLase Be Used For?
While the WaterLase can replace a dental drill and make treatments painless, that’s not its only function. WaterLase can also be used to treat gum issues.
Using WaterLase for gum procedures reduces bleeding, post-op pain, swelling, and the need for pain medication in many cases. Also, where a drill or scalpel might remove healthy material from your teeth and gums, the WaterLase will only remove the tissue that needs to be removed. This preserves more of the tooth structure you were born with.
So some of the advantages of WaterLase include:
- No pain
- No annoying drill sound
- No heat emitted
- No vibrations
If you’ve put off visiting the dentist primarily because of fear of the drill, you’ll be happy to know that Legacy Smiles offers a modern, painless alternative. So don’t hesitate any more! Call us at 406-794-3114 to set up an appointment or use our online form to contact us.