Dentophobia, or fear of the dentist's chair, is a common phobia. One clinic in Dubai is seeking to change this by offering a pain and noise-free alternative to the traditional drill. We speak with Dr Joy Antony to get to the root of the matter.
Dr Joy, you claim to offer injection and drill free dentistry. How so?
We use a new dental laser called Waterlase iPlus, which is the most advanced and powerful laser available on the market today. It works on both your teeth (hard tissues) and your gums (soft tissues), so you can actually drill the tooth with the advantage of not having the drilling sound, the pain or the discomfort normally associated with an invasive procedure. The laser doesn't have the vibrations or heat of the normal dental drill, so it is much more comfortable and in most cases you don't need an anaesthetic. Another major advancement is the healing time; within a couple of days after laser surgery you are practically back to normal whereas with normal surgery, it can take about a week to 10 days to recover.
What exactly is a laser?
It is a precision tool generating an incredibly accurate beam of light directly to the handpiece through an optical fibre. The laser blends with a gentle spray of water and is specifically aimed to the target area.
Are lasers suitable for children?
It has major advantages for children, mainly due to the reduced pain factor, and there's no distracting, whirring drill sound. In fact, we tell the children that the popping sound the laser makes is like a popcorn machine. Plus, children often have problems with sensitive nerves in the roots of their teeth and the laser is great for that. It also sterilises the area it works on, and seals off blood cells, so you have a very low chance of post-operative infection.
How widely available is laser treatment in the UAE?
Many clinics in Dubai offer lasers and we've had the previous generation for about five years, but we're the first practice in the UAE to have Waterlase iPlus.
How much more expensive is laser treatment compared to conventional procedures?
Unfortunately, the technology is very expensive and very few companies are making it. It's still not that common. But the price of the procedure is only slightly more than a regular dental treatment, around 20 per cent higher.
What can't lasers do?
We still have to use drills if there's an extensive preparation; if we're doing a crown or root canal, for example. But we would normally use the laser for the major part and the drill only in the final part. But overall, the lasers are great for phobic or nervous patients and they can't be beaten when it comes to veneers and smile makeovers, too. Lasers will eventually become standard and every dental chair will come with the technology one day.
In terms of general dental health, how does the UAE stack up?
You can't generalise as there are so many different nationalities, but I would say flossing is very overlooked and many people don't think it's important, which is a big mistake - that's where gum disease starts.
How often should people visit their dentist?
At least once every six months.
Procedures using the Waterlase iPlus start at approximately Dh2,500 to Dh3,500 for the upper or lower portion of the mouth. For more information, go to www.drjoydentalclinic.com or call 04 328 5332 for an appointment.
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