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Blog Dr. Alex Llanos

Is it the sound of the drill that doesn't give you peace during your visits to the dentist?

Many of us associate the annoying sound of the dental drill with severe dental pain, which is not entirely accurate. The dental drill itself is a cutting tool similar to a burr, used for drilling into the tooth.

It operates thanks to a high-pressure compressed air device called a 'high-speed handpiece.' The drill rotates due to the action of a turbine, which is activated by the flow of compressed air, generating a high-frequency sound that can be unpleasant to the unaccustomed ear.


What would you say if we prove to you, on your next visit to the dentist, that it's not the contact of the dental drill with the tooth that generates the majority of the noise when drilling? On the contrary, it's the air that generates most of the noise when the turbine is activated. In this test, we will operate the dental drill without it making contact with the tooth so that we can identify together where all the noise is coming from.

Now, let's relate the noise to severe pain. This pain most of the time would have been caused during the drilling of the tooth. This is a common and routine procedure in dental treatments. Around 90% of procedures require the use of the dental drill. The pain we feel is due to the vibrations generated in the channels that run through the tooth from the inside. These vibrations stimulate the nerve endings inside the tooth's channels, and from there, a signal is generated that the nerve carries to the brain, which identifies it as pain (the hydrodynamic theory).

To reduce the pain during your visit, we apply anesthesia to block the nerve signals and prevent the vibrations from the drilling from causing this uncomfortable sensation. Anesthesia is applied in most cases, and when it wears off, you'll be back to your regular activities, free from any tooth pain caused by vibrations.

Now that you've identified the source of your slight aversion to the dental drill noise, its operation, and the generation of tooth pain, do you feel more confident about your future visits? Is anesthesia always sufficient for you? Do you avoid going to the dentist to avoid the sensations that the dental drill produces?


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