Millions of people around the world suffer from dental phobia, a fear that can be so debilitating, some have skipped their dental appointments for decades. Triggered by a variety of factors, the fear can cause severe anxiety attacks with both physical and emotional symptoms, making the consequences of poor oral health more appealing than experiencing an episode. For many, the sight, sound, or smell of the dental drill alone is enough to cause significant discomfort. And don’t even mention the word “shot.” Needles are another source of dental phobia. But what if you could visit the dentist without concern of drills or needles? If those major triggers were eliminated, how many might consider actually going to their next appointment? Thanks to a new, ground-breaking development, we might just find out.
According to a recent article in The Guardian, scientists at King’s College London have developed a pain-free method of repairing cavities that does not involve the use of drilling or injections. The new method actually replaces the traditional filling with a technique that rebuilds the damaged tooth. Traditionally, tooth decay is first removed by drilling, exposing the cavity which is then filled with either amalgam or composite resin. The new process, referred to as Electrically Accelerated and Enhanced Remineralisation (EAER), speeds up the natural movement of calcium and phosphate minerals to repair the tooth. According to professor, Nigel Pitts of King’s College London’s Dental Institute, “The way we treat teeth today is not ideal. When we repair a tooth by putting in a filling, that tooth enters a cycle of drilling and refillings, as ultimately, each ‘repair’ fails.”
The process is not only believed to be “kinder” to patients, but is thought to be better for their teeth and is expected to be at least as cost-effective as the current procedures. Additionally, the device can be used to whiten teeth, a process which is also associated with pain for some. A start-up company, Reminova, has been tasked with commercializing the research as part of a new project that promotes entrepreneurship through the development of novel technologies, established by the mayor of London, Boris Johnson. The technology could be ready for commercial use in as little as three years.