01 Aug

New dental tech enables dentists to monitor patient stress levels

Most of us feel a little stressed about going to the dentist. It’s normal for your heart rate to rise when you’re waiting to see a dentist and you can hear the whirring sound of the drill in a nearby treatment room, but for some, dental anxiety is so profound that they can’t even face the prospect of walking through a clinic door. Dentists are trained to care for nervous patients, but sometimes, they have to use guesswork when gauging stress levels. If patients are reluctant to talk, or they’re trying to put on a brave face, it can be difficult to determine how they’re feeling. That is until you have access to technology that enables you to monitor stress levels in real-time.
Researchers at Columbia University’s Center for Precision Dental Medicine have developed new technology, which enables dentists to track stress levels. Currently, dentists are using wristbands to obtain information about dental procedures, such as which instruments are used for how long, but the team is about to introduce high-tech dental chairs that track stress levels. The new chairs will monitor the patient’s pulse and their oxygenation levels.
Dean of the university’s College of Dental Medicine, Christian Stohler, explained that it’s extremely useful to analyse a person’s biology when the body is under stress. New technology could enable dentists to see how well patients respond to and cope with stress, and this could provide an insight into their risk of developing certain conditions that are linked to stress.
The aim is to create a less stressful and more positive experience for patients, but also to take advantage of the fact that people are more likely to see a dentist on a regular basis than a general doctor. Data obtained by new technology could provide general health benefits by identifying potential issues during a routine examination, and it could also diversify the range of services provided by dentists in the future. Chief information officer at the dental college, Steve Erde, suggested that one day, patients could be offered testing for diabetes at the dentist.