Alternative to the dreaded shrill of the dentist drill

Medical Watch
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A more soothing sound in the dentist’s chair. An alternative to the drill helps lessen patient anxiety and fear.

The dreaded shrill of the drill …

Dr. Michael Errico, dentist: “Traditional drill with the air driven turbine that you hear that high pitch whine that everybody gets a little anxious over.”

The traditional tool still sits in Dr Michael Errico’s dental office, but he offers patients an alternative.

Dr Errico: “This actually uses light energy, and what the light energy does is penetrates through the tooth structure.”

It’s a laser that first numbs the tooth.

Dr Errico: “We’ll use a little topical around the gum tissue. So what I tell people with this is you’re going to hear more of a buzz, kind of like a bumble bee. We have a frequency that will be on the tooth and we’ll hold it there for a minute to two minutes and that light energy at a certain frequency will penetrate through to the nerve and confuse it.”

Once the nerve signal to the brain is scrambled, a change in frequency allows Dr Errico to cut through the enamel.

Dr Errico: “And as we change the frequency it sounds more like popcorn. When you hear the more popping, the energy is lying on the tooth longer and that’s where you get the ablation. For children it’s fantastic. For that person that’s anxious or has anxiety — they don’t like the sound of the drill — it really makes them nervous and freaks them out, so this is an alternative to it.”

Even a former boxer appreciates the gentler touch – David Diaz is in for a quick cavity fix.

David Diaz, patient: “You hear a little bit, but it’s not the dreadful kind. You can kind of feel, right, but it’s not that pulsating you normally get. It was actually very easy and comfortable.”

Dr Errico: “There’s no vibration. There’s no heat transfer so it turns out to be less aggressive and less invasive for the patient, and it is very comfortable.”

Dr Errico also uses the laser drill for some dental surgeries – with less bleeding and a faster healing time.

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