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Inside The Mind Of Someone Terrified Of The Dentist’s Drill

Dental TreatmentRunning a Google search with the terms, “why are dentists…” at the front of the query yields several funny, but also interesting results. Google will try to complete the phrase, leading to these queries: “why are dentists evil?” or “why are dentists sadistic?” It’s hilarious from a more logical point of view, but there is science at play in this situation.

It’s the same scientific principles which are at the corner of what Shrewsbury dentists do, especially when dealing with dental anxiety. Furthermore, it’s also interesting to note that people terrified of dental visits fear one thing: the dentist’s drill.

Inner Workings

Experts believe that a fear of the drill can be explained in easy-to-understand situations. People with bad experiences may not have been numbed properly (or weren’t numbed entirely). Without anaesthesia, it’s easy to feel the drill vibrate inside one’s mouth, which can cause not-so-pleasurable sensations. Most people also don’t like the sound, though modern drills are designed to be as silent as possible just to prevent the same fearful reactions.

Researchers are trying to understand what causes this. So far, their findings reveal that the sound of a dentist’s drill is on the same anxiety scale as a fear of snakes or heights. Overall, the explanation scientists can come up with is that people are only rationally trying to avoid pain. They also point out that sitting in the dentist’s chair can add up to the negative experience. Seeing the array of built-in instruments on the chair apparently makes people feel claustrophobic.

This, in turn, makes them feel ‘hopeless’ in light of trying to avoid pain from the drill. Such a response is understandable, but can also be prevented. If only the patient is put under an effective anaesthetic, like IV fluids or laughing gas, then the anticipation of seemingly imminent ‘pain’ can be lessened in their minds.

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A Few Proposed Solutions

A study published in Science Daily writes about a device which works like regular noise-cancelling headphones. When used, the device drowns out the high-pitched sound of the dentist’s drill using music playing from the patient’s own mobile phone or MP3 player.

According to researchers based at King’s College, London, the device blocks out unpleasant sounds while still keeping the dentist’s voice audible via a special built-in microphone. Such a technology can be handy, in the absence of a way to ‘train’ people not to fear the dentist’s drill.

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