Philadelphia Magazine’s Top Dentists 2010: The Drill Is Gone

Going to the dentist isn’t as much of a pain as it used to be — literally

The Issue: An infected or dead tooth
The Old Fix: A root canal that involves intricate by-hand cutting and root-shaping (ouch!), which might take multiple visits to complete.
The New Fix: A root canal done with new engine-driven files that reshape the root, often in less than an hour.
Cool Factor: Nerve endings everywhere can heave a big, deep sigh of relief.

The Issue: Dentist chair nerves and boredom
The Old Fix: Back issues of People and Highlights; Muzak and light rock.
The New Fix: Everything from HD TVs to built-in chair massagers. (Just no texting … see page 75.)
Cool Factor: Pretending you’re just getting a pedicure: priceless.

The Issue: A suspicious lesion in your mouth
The Old Fix: Slicing that thing off with a scalpel, and sending it to the lab to be checked under a microscope.
The New Fix: The lesion is gently scraped with a brush-like instrument — it’s painless, no anesthesia -needed — and a computer evaluates the cells.
Cool Factor: Because this can be done in-office, oral cancers are often caught earlier.

The Issue: Stained, ugly teeth
The Old Fix: Unpleasant enamel removal dulled with anesthetic, to make way for porcelain veneers.
The New Fix: Lumineers. They’re made from ultra-thin laminate that’s stronger and more opaque, so there’s usually no need to remove enamel before applying.
Cool Factor: Depending on the state of your smile, some teeth may still need enamel removal, and badly stained teeth may need thicker veneers.

The Issue: Crooked teeth
The Old Fix: You know it (and probably suffered through it once before): clunky metal braces that cut your lips and trap your lunch.
The New Fix: Nearly invisible Invisalign, a series of clear, soft plastic trays you replace every two weeks. Best part? You can take them out while eating, brushing or smooching.
Cool Factor: They may take longer than their metal counterparts and may not work for seriously problematic mouths.

The Issue: Cavities that need filling
The Old Fix: A needle to numb you, and the unsettling whir of a high-powered dental drill grinding into your tooth.
The New Fix: A Waterlase — a laser combined with an ultra-fine stream of water — smooths away tooth decay with minimal pain and without that toe-curling drill noise.
Cool Factor: The most common — and commonly dreaded — procedure now often comes minus the dread. 

The Issue:
Painful procedures
The Old Fix: A shot — or two, or three — of lidocaine, and you still might feel a little something.
The New FIx: A twice-as-strong shot of Septocaine. It numbs the tooth more, and fewer injections are usually needed.
Cool Factor: It’s still a shot, just a better one.

The Issue: A lost or broken tooth
The Old Fix: A removable denture.
The New Fix: A natural-looking, permanent titanium or ceramic implant that screws into the jawbone.
Cool Factor: Anything’s cooler than dentures. If you can hold on to your wisdom teeth, their stem cells may be able to grow a replacement tooth.

The Issue: Persistent gum disease
The Old Fix: Pop a plaque-fighting antibiotic that throws your entire body out of whack.
The New Fix: Dust Arestin, an antibiotic powder, directly onto the gums, greatly reducing the potential side effects of antibiotic use.
Cool Factor: Delay more expensive procedures (like surgery) and skip the constant pill-popping? We’ll take it.