Going to the dentist can be an overwhelming experience for many people – especially if you have a dental phobia.
In fact, it’s estimated that as many as 75 percent of American adults experience some degree of fear when it comes to going to the dentist.
Harper Mills, a 38-year-old New York native has had a fear of the dentist since she was a child.
“I'm definitely apprehensive,” Mills told FoxNews.com “I had nine teeth pulled before I was 8 years old, and I think I have built-in fear about going to the dentist.”
Mills avoided regular check-ups and cleanings for years, until she heard about Dr. Michael Krochak, a dentist in New York City who specializes in treating patients with phobias. Mills made an appointment, and Krochak diagnosed her with anticipatory anxiety.
“I've developed a system of behavioral modification (and) systematic desensitization, where we slowly change the dental environment and the experiences that our patients have in a much more comfortable, relaxed and supportive manner,” Krochak told FoxNews.com. “They are conquering their fears and desensitizing to the environment so that each time they are a little less.”
Behavior modification isn’t the only way Krochak has helped patients conquer their fears. New technology called the Single-Tooth Anesthesia (STA) System has taken the pain out of common procedures he performs like fillings, crowns and root canals.
“What is bothersome about a dental injection is not the actual needle itself, much to people’s surprise. It is the actual pressure of the fluid going through the tissues,” said Krochak. “So what the wand STA System does is it allows us to give injections in a fashion that is much more controlled, and slower and gentler, where a patient does not perceive the pressure of the fluid going in.
In the past, dentists had to estimate the spot in which to inject a patient, resulting in a loss of feeling in the surrounding tissue, which often lasted for hours. But a computer chip inside of the wand of the STA System helps pinpoint the exact location for the injection and controls the flow of medication into the gums.
“We can give a periodontal ligament injection to numb a single tooth painlessly without the collateral numbing of the facial tissues,” said Krochak. “You can actually numb a lower back tooth without the lip, chin and tongue getting numb.”
Krochak found two small cavities in Mills’ mouth and suggested that using the STA System during her fillings would help her further overcome her fears.
“It's really exciting not to have that experience of not being able to say anything, not being able to eat and feeling awkward in the world,” Mills said. “You could come here and have your filling filled and within an hour be back at work without having to think that your day is impaired by the experience.”
The STA System can be used for almost any dental procedure short of extraction and oral surgery, Krochak added. And it comes at no extra cost to the patient.