I have a terrible fear of going to the dentist yet I know I need to. What should I do?
If you fear going to the dentist, you are not alone. Between 9% and 15% of Americans state they avoid going to the dentist because of anxiety or fear. The first thing you should do is talk with your dentist. In fact, if your dentist doesn’t take your fear seriously, find another dentist. The key to coping with dental anxiety is to discuss your fears with your dentist. Once your dentist knows what your fears are, he or she will be better able to work with you to determine the best ways to make you less anxious and more comfortable.
The good news is that today there are a number of strategies that can be used to help reduce fear, anxiety, and pain. These strategies include use of medications (to either numb the treatment area or sedatives or anesthesia to help you relax), use of lasers instead of the traditional drill for removing decay, application of a variety of mind/body pain and anxiety-reducing techniques (such as guided imagery, biofeedback, deep breathing, acupuncture, and other mental health therapies), and perhaps even visits to a dentophobia clinic or a support group.
How safe are dental X-rays?
Exposure to all sources of radiation — including the sun, minerals in the soil, appliances in your home, and dental X-rays — can damage the body’s tissues and cells and can lead to the development of cancer in some instances. Fortunately, the dose of radiation you are exposed to during the taking of X-rays is extremely small.
Advances in dentistry over the years have lead to the low radiation levels emitted by today’s X-rays. Some of the improvements are new digital X-ray machines that limit the radiation beam to the small area being X-rayed, higher speed X-ray films that require shorter exposure time compared with older film speeds to get the same results, and the use of film holders that keep the film in place in the mouth (which prevents the film from slipping and the need for repeat X-rays and additional radiation exposure). Also, the use of lead-lined, full-body aprons protects the body from stray radiation (though this is almost nonexistent with the modern dental X-ray machines.) In addition, federal law requires that X-ray machines be checked for accuracy and safety every two years, with some states requiring more frequent checks.
Are Gold Fillings Still Available?
Traditionally, gold is used to fill teeth that have cavities. While polymer fillings have become the standard in tooth fillings, gold still remains one of the best substances for correcting cavities. Gold is a unique metal that is soft enough to not damage any surrounding teeth, but also strong enough to keep its shape for many years. There are some disadvantages to gold fillings, such as the materials used to compose the alloy.
History of Gold Fillings
In the 1840s gold was used in dentistry work by condensing small gold foils into coils, which were placed on the teeth of patients. Gold coils were difficult to place on teeth and gold fillings required adhesive. During the Civil War gold fillings here the most popular form of filling a cavity.
Gold fillings are much stronger than comparable materials. When you have gold fillings, you can expect them to last at a minimum of 15 years with proper oral care. Since the durability of gold is much stronger than a polymer filling, patients are able to eat any food they wish without the worry of loosening the filling. Gold fillings are often requested by patients for their aesthetic appeal.
There are two main types of gold fillings you will encounter at the dentist. These include gold inlay and gold onlay fillings. The differences lies in how they are placed on your tooth. With the gold inlay filling, the dentist places the filling on the biting surface of your tooth. Inlays are normally very small, but often are placed on the most used surfaces of your teeth. Gold onlays are much larger than inlays and are used when a large portion of the tooth has become eroded due to cavities. Gold inlays and onlays are custom made by the dentist and are set in place by the use of dental cement.
Gold is one of the strongest materials used for dental fillings. Gold fillings require more work on behalf of the dentist, and thus the prices of these fillings are much higher then for plastic resins and silver fillings. Gold fillings also take much longer to produce, and several visits to the dentist are required for tooth moldings and fittings. Yet, gold fillings will last at least a decade more than their cheaper counterparts.
Gold fillings are visible to the eye, making placement of these fillings very important. The dentist will recommend gold fillings for your teeth if they will not be visible when you smile or talk. Restoration of gold fillings is considerably more expensive then that of its counterparts. Because of this, it is important that you take extra care of your filling to ensure that its placement is secure and does not come loose.