Dentists finding ways to make their work painless
January 10, 1997
Web posted at: 12:00 a.m. EST
MIAMI (CNN) -- The American Dental Association says 10
million Americans avoid the tooth doctor out of fear
of pain. But Dr. Gordon Sokoloff prides himself on being as
close as possible to a painless dentist.
He employs the latest techniques to make patients forget
where they're sitting and what's going on around them, from
soothing pictures on the ceiling to headsets for listening to
their favorite music.
Young patients, in particular, enjoy the music and virtual
reality glasses which they can use to watch movies such as
"Back to the Future" and "Waterworld."
While they are preoccupied with the movie, he uses things
like nitrous oxide -- laughing gas, to some -- and that helps
them to relax even more.
As a result, he says, "the little pricks and pokes that you
might feel when you get an injection or even when you have
your teeth cleaned, you don't feel those at all."
Dentists say their profession is constantly exploring new
ways to reduce and eventually eliminate pain. One advance is
the use of an "inter-oral" camera that allows patients to see
what's going on a television monitor.
For some, that seems to reduce anxiety.
High-speed drills, sharper disposable needles and
even lasers will further reduce the pain.
"There is even electronic anesthesia that is being
investigated now that helps reduce pain to some extent," says
Dr. Samuel Dorn of the Florida Dental Association.
Dentists admit that not all procedures can be pain free,
at least not yet. But many routine procedures are close.
"I like that you get offered a glass of wine or music or
something to calm you," says patient Barbara Gorin. "And Dr.
Sokoloff is really a painless dentist, which is also very
nice. I mean, even for a cleaning you never have to have
While going to the dentist is still a very real fear for many
people, dentists say it is less and less a reality.
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