The intraoral (inside the mouth) camera, according to the ADA, is used as a diagnostic aid and a communication tool between you and your dentist, helping the patient see what the dentist sees — all projected on a computer monitor.
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In Rubino's office, as well as most dental offices, digital X-rays, also called digital radiography, have replaced film X-rays, allowing for images to be viewed instantly. And patients don't miss the sharp cardboard corners of X-ray film or the gagging effect it could cause.
Over the past 10 years, dentistry has made great progress using lasers.
According to the American Dental Association, lasers now are being used in a wide range of procedures — from removing tooth decay to treatment of canker sores and gum disease. Laser treatments also can be used for root canals, allowing for speedier healing, less swelling, reduced pain and better recovery.
Dental lasers use a specialized light bean, not readily seen. The invisible light allows dentists to aim with precision and avoid damage to other parts of the mouth.
If pain is your problem, numbing sprays, gels and patches can make cleanings less arduous and reduce the discomfort of injections. The ADA says sedation also is an option to lessen a patient's awareness of what's going on in the dentist's chair. Dentists must have special training and certification to give some forms of sedation and patients must be accompanied to and from the dentist's office.
Costs of sedation can vary and are not always covered by insurance.
Taking a cue from pediatric practices, some dentists offer an array of entertainment options to keep patients' minds off the procedures. Many practices offer headphones and movies.
Some even offer spa-like comforts, such as massaging chairs, warm neck rolls and paraffin wax treatment for hands.
The ADA says patients can bring their own distractions, such as an iPods filled with their favorite tunes.
While there are things you can do to make your visit to the dentist less anxiety-riddled, the ADA offers an important don't. Don't try to self-medicate. Drinking alcohol before a dental visit is an especially bad idea, the dental organization stresses. Also, an over-the-counter pain reliever might take the edge off pain, but in some cases, it could increase bleeding. Be sure to always consult with your dentist beforehand.
The ADA also stresses the importance of talking to your dentist and the staff about your fears. And shop around until you find a practice that is empathetic.