For generations, the term “painless dentistry” was considered an oxymoron similar to “military intelligence” or “jumbo shrimp”, but modern dentistry has come a long way in recent years and most dental work should now be virtually pain free and comfortable. There is no longer any need to fear going to the dentist or to suffer through an uncomfortable, painful dental procedure.
Modern dental care is far more comfortable than most adults are used to experiencing in part because of advances in dental care and in part because dentists have recognized that pain, discomfort, and dental anxiety stem from the perception that dentistry is supposed to be uncomfortable or painful. After all, that’s the experience of generations of dental patients who have endured dental care rather than welcomed it.
Dentists have addressed that perception by creating a soothing, comforting environment in the dental office. Gone is the whine of the air powered drill, replaced by quiet electric drills. Many dentists offer soothing music or even television for the patient to enjoy during their dental procedure. Waiting rooms at modern dentists’ offices look and feel more like a waiting room at the spa than a dental office. Today, dentists understand that a relaxed patient is a comfortable patient.
For many patients, the injection of novocain was the most painful and dreaded part of any dental procedure. Improvements in injection techniques have made numbing the area to be worked on virtually pain free. Most dentists use topical numbing agents so patients don’t feel the “stick”. In addition, the discomfort from the injection is usually due to injecting the novocain too fast and many dentists use computer controlled injectors instead of a syringe so that the novocain is administered slowly and comfortably.
The widespread use of sedation also increases comfort and decreases anxiety. The attitude in the old days was that sedation was for dental “wimps”, but now most dentists offer nitrous oxide and oral or intravenous sedation as needed to provide a comfortable dental experience.
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