When I give thanks for modern dentistry, I’m not referring to the practice of some dentists, which is to do any dental work that might involve pain using some form of anesthesia.  It is good for children to learn how to handle pain in small doses.   Life is not pain-free, and the habit of seeking medication for every ill is a dangerous one.  Personally, I’d much rather deal with the temporary, minor pain of the dentist’s drill than the risk and after-effects of anesthesia.  Moreover, when the patient is aware of where the dentist is probing, the dentist is more likely to notice if he’s gone too far or found a trouble spot.

That said, the improvements in dentistry since I was a child have been vast.  The drills back then were slow, and much more painful. (Porter’s dentist even used a foot pedal powered drill for a while!)  Today’s high-speed drills are almost a pleasure (I said almost) in comparison.

Thanks to fluoride (however controversial it is when put in public water supplies), to dental sealants, and to better attention given to tooth and gum care, even before a baby gets its first tooth, children have many fewer cavities today.  Orthodontia has made badly crooked teeth a thing of the past.  Onlays, crowns, bridges, and dental implants have greatly extended the life of our natural teeth and delayed the need for dentures.

The need to repair dental caries is so low these days that dentists have taken to whitening teeth to stay in business.  What they’ll do if we ever kick our tremendous sugar habit, I don’t know.

Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, November 23, 2010 at 6:09 am | Edit
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