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Tuesday
Jan112011

New Technology Could Silence the Shriek of a Dental Drill

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(NEW YORK) -- If you cringe at the high-pitched squeal of a dentist's drill, you're not alone.  Studies have shown it's that very sound that makes people anxious about going to the dentist.  But for those who fear the sound of the dental drill, there's a new technology that will make getting fillings sound easier.

A British dentist has developed a device that filters out the noise of the drill.  Patients can still hear other sounds, such as the dentist talking.

"The way that technology works is it listens to the sound, then takes that sound and puts the exact opposite wave around it and if you put two sound waves together with one going in and another going in the opposite direction, there's no sound that comes out," said Dr. Mark Wolff, professor and chair of the Department of Cariology and Comprehensive Care at the New York University College of Dentistry.

This particular device isn't on the open market yet, so dentists haven't had the chance to try it out on patients.  There aren't many products that are very effective at drowning out the drill noise, but dentists say they do what they can, and encourage patients to do the same.

Wolff said he's tried noise-canceling headphones and electric drills, but neither option has been effective.  Noise-cancelling headphones don't mask the high-frequency drill sound, and the electric drills also emit a high-pitch sound.

Dentists say it's unlikely that drills will change very much.  In order to be effective, the bits have to move very fast, which is what makes that shrieking sound.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio