Many people avoid dental care because of bad experiences they have had. As a result, some people may not have seen a dentist for 15 or 20 years or more. What these people should know is that dentistry has been literally transformed in the last 10 years. The most notable and important changes have been in the science and technology used for the reduction of pain, improvement of root canal therapy, replacement of teeth with dental implants, and the revolution in cosmetic dentistry, specifically porcelain veneers and the white, resin fillings.
One of the most important changes is the improvement in local anesthesia. Years ago, dentists used the local anesthetic Novocain, and many people still associate it with what the dentist uses for "the shot." Novocain is rarely used today because it causes a much higher incidence of allergic reactions. The most common anesthetics used in dentistry now are lidocaine, bupivacaine, mepivacaine, septocaine and others, which may still cause an allergic reaction. Septocaine, a recently approved anesthetic, may be stronger than the other local anesthetics and allows most dental procedures to be performed painlessly.
In an effort to reduce discomfort during dental procedures, today's dentist can use either air abrasion or a dental laser. These modern devices enable dentists to treat many cavities without a needle or a dental drill. Some dental lasers can also treat the gums and do other more advanced procedures with less discomfort during and after the treatment.
Perhaps one of the most improved dental procedures in recent years is also the most feared - root canal. New techniques have greatly reduced the time needed to perform a root canal, and also greatly limit the potential for discomfort.
In almost all cases, root canal therapy can be effectively completed in just one visit. The average time needed to complete a root canal varies, but is usually between 30 and 60 minutes. This is possible because the new systems use nickel-titanium dental files that can be mounted on a slow speed dental drill. The older methods of performing root canal would involve the manual use of dental files that would often necessitate three grueling, one-hour visits.
Modern methods and technology have greatly improved most dental treatments and may provide a pleasant surprise for those who have avoided dental care for many years.
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