[dropcap]G[/dropcap]ot kids who fear the dentist? They’re not alone, and it’s not just kids’ stuff. Between 5 percent and 8 percent of Americans avoid dentists each year out of fear, according to the Dental Fears Research Clinic at the University of Washington. The American Dental Association puts that number at 40 million Americans who avoid going to the dentist each year — and your kids may be among them.
Not hard to figure out why. Most dental phobia comes from fear of being helpless in the dentist’s chair while undergoing a procedure that often includes a painful injection. But this is the 21st Century, and there now are ways to help eliminate that pain and much of the fear associated with a visit to the dentist.
One especially interesting technology is an instrument called The Wand. Using a computer-controlled system, The Wand (which is no bigger than your basic pen) controls the flow of the anesthesia as it goes in so it doesn’t build up too quickly. This is important because pain doesn’t come from the needle. It happens because the pressure of delivering anesthesia may be too fast. What makes this technology unique is that it removes the pressure inconsistency of manual injections.
Best of all, The Wand gets the anesthesia to the specific spot where it’s needed — e.g. a single tooth — without having to numb a large and unnecessary part of the mouth. This means you don’t leave with the feeling of a fat lip or numb tongue, and, in most cases, can get back to whatever you’re doing right away… including school or work.
Dr. Nancy Sosa of the Towncare Dental Center in Baptist Medical Arts Building is a local dentist who uses The Wand with her patients and has been for years.
“I started using The Wand about four years ago, and many of my patients now request it when they come in for a procedure,” Dr. Sosa said.
She noted that the controlled delivery of anesthesia via the technology is, for her, superior to manual delivery because, “with The Wand there’s no pressure coming from my hand to push a syringe plunger, like there would be with a manual injection. That makes this system more comfortable for the patient.”
Dr. Sosa added that, based on patient comments and her observations, The Wand reduces the pain and after-effects of manual injections by at least 70 percent, which is why it works great with kids as well as adults.
The system also is more localized.
“With The Wand I can numb an individual tooth rather than part of the mouth,” she said. “That usually speeds up the anesthesia delivery and the whole procedure. And it seems to wear off a little faster too. It’s made such a huge difference to my patients and my practice that I simply haven’t gone back to manual injections — and I won’t.”
According to Dr. Sosa, The Wand is being used at the New York University College of Dentistry as well as the University of Florida College of Dentistry.
So next time your kid balks about having to see a dentist, think of Dr. Sosa and The Wand — and tell them the trip is going to literally make them feel better about the visit.