If you are like many people who fear the dentist, you probably have a long list of reasons to support your fear. You are not alone. It is estimated that approximately 75% of all Americans experience some type of dental fear. Among the top ten reasons people give for their fear are the sounds the drills and other dental instruments, make during their dental procedures. The sound alone is often enough to make a grown person break out into a cold sweat. Having a better understanding of how dental drills work, and why they cause the noise they do, may go a long ways in easing your dental fear.
What Are Dental Drills?
Dental drills are the small micro tools utilized by a dentist or dental assistant during your dental procedures. These drills are used to clean, shape, and open your teeth. The dental drill may also be referred to as a dental handpiece, or dental engine. In all actuality, the dental engine, or power source, may be used for a wide array of dental tools.
Although very small, dental drills are very powerful instruments. They are also often used by jewelers, hobbyist, or others who need small, precise tools capable of cutting through very hard surfaces. Drills can be classified into two main types.
High-speed drills - A high-speed dental drill can rotate at a wide variety of speeds of up to 800,000 revolutions per minute (RPM). This means the drill bit actually goes around more than 13,000 times per second. This allows your dentist to get a lot of drilling done in a short period of time.
Low-speed drills - There are times when a dentist will choose not to use as much speed. This is often because the work they are doing requires more precision. During these times, they will choose to use a low-speed drill that may only rotate at speeds ranging up to 80,000 RPM, or more than 1,300 per second.
How Are Dental Drills Made?
Most dental drills have the same basic features. They all include some type of motor, a hand piece, couplings, and multiple drill bits. To give high speed drills the power they need, they are activated by an air turbine. Air turbines allow them to convert highly pressurized air into the mechanical energy they need to operate. It is also this high number of rotations that creates the high, shrill pitch of the drill. If you think air turbines sound familiar, they should, they are also used to power jet engines.
Have you ever noticed that when a high speed drill is being used, it shoots water out into your mouth? The water is necessary to cool the bit of the drill due to its speed. If the water was not present, the speed of the bit would quickly make it too hot to be used on your tooth.
Low-speed drills do not require as much power. Their slower speeds allow them to be run with either electric or air-driven motors. Because of their lower speeds, they also do not require the use of water for cooling.
Most dental drill systems are composed of a combination of both an air turbine system and some type of secondary system. This allows the dentist to use both types of equipment at any given time.
Can The Noise Be Cancelled?
There are numerous ways dentists can give you relief from the noise of the drills. Many offer various types of headphones. Not only can relaxing music be piped through these, but they help to muffle the shrill of the drill. Even then, not all of the noise can be cancelled. But, there may be hope.
British inventors are experimenting with technology that will allow your dentist to cancel the drill noises by introducing the opposite sound waves. These opposing sound waves will cancel each other out. This will allow you to not have to hear the drill, while allowing you to hear your dentist's instructions.
While these have not reached the US markets yet, laser technology has. Lasers are being used in many dental offices to remove bacteria and tooth decay, as well as in the processing of filling the teeth. Since they work by delivering energy in the form of light, they do not produce the noise that a typical dental drill would.
Hopefully, as technology changes, allowing micro tools to get smaller as well as more efficient, there may be a way to eliminate the sound completely. If you want more information about drills and other micro tools your dentist may use, you could contact a supplier or manufacturer like Richards Micro-Tool.