Does Your Dentist have a Lightsaber?
Our resident Aunt Agony gets an SOS from a dental-phobic reader and reveals how her own fears vanished when her dentist traded in the drill for a lightsaber (read: laser).
Dear Aunt Agony,
One of my greatest fears in life is going to the dentist. It’s right up there with getting trapped in a cave with a hungry wild animal. And now my dentist tells me I need a root canal procedure! What should I do?!
Dear In Agony,
I feel you. Plenty of people are terrified of going to the dentist. I was one of them until quite recently. You see, the old me would sit in the dentist’s chair and quake in fear. I would look at the apparatuses, lined up neatly on the tray in front of me, and see torture instruments. And the most menacing of which was the drill. Oh, how I loathed the high-pitched whining noise it made; how I hated the way it made my jaw shiver as it worked on my teeth.
And then one day, it was gone.
On that particular visit, I was scanning the room as usual for that tool of horror but it was nowhere in sight. What I did see was a new machine standing quietly in a corner. It had a digital screen and a robotic arm. It was my dentist’s new lightsaber.
(Ok, actually it’s a dental laser machine called Lightwalker® by Fotona but never mind names, because the Force, it is strong with this one.)
I was up for a root canal too. My dentist had already explained that it involves removing the nerve and pulp of a badly decayed tooth, cleaning the inside of the tooth and sealing it… which, to be honest, sounds horrific. But he also assured me that he would be using laser, instead of a drill, to cut into my tooth. It turned out to quite a tolerable experience! I know, I’m shocked that I said that too.
First, there was no whining noise — that sound that I’ve come to associate with impending pain — so I was more relaxed than usual. The vibrations were also minimal because, my dentist explained, laser technology uses low-energy pulses instead of metal blades to cut through teeth. It’s also quicker and more accurate, he assured me.
I was so impressed that I probed on and learnt that there are many other procedures where dental lasers can be used, including common ones like filling cavities, root canal, tooth extraction, crown lengthening, veneers and whitening! And while hard tissue lasers are used on teeth, there are soft tissue lasers for gums. This can be used in aesthetic procedures to fix gummy smiles and treat gum disease.
Each procedure uses laser in slightly different ways but fundamentally, here’s what you need to know.
1. Lasers are generally faster and more accurate. And anything that equates to spend less time in the dentist’s chair is worth a shout-out, in my opinion.
2. You may not need an anaesthetic injection! Lasers have an analgesic (read: pain relief) effect, so no pain = no need for a shot!
3. There’s less bleeding and faster healing, compared to a scalpel. Lasers help encourage clotting in exposed blood vessels so bleeding is minimised. Wounds also tend to heal faster, so there’s less downtime for patients.
4. Lasers kill bacteria. An added advantage! The high-energy beams help sterilise the area and, in the case of cavities, this may mean that fillings last longer.
So, In Agony, why don’t you give laser-assisted dental procedures a try? Like me, you could be surprised! If your dentist doesn’t have a lightsaber, try mine — I’m sure the team at i.Dental would be glad to help.