A trip to the dentist is often feared but prevention and new health developments could mean pain free dentistry.

People on the streets of Blackrock in Dublin and Naas in Kildare are asked about how they feel about going to the dentist. The majority of them admit to feeling afraid. 

I’m just afraid of my life, even when I go in and sit in the chair my knees knock together and I have to ask for a Valium to calm me down.

Pain is the most off-putting aspect of going to the dentist.

It’s more or less the fear of the pain, rather than the pain.

Another woman is not afraid of pain but does not like the injections.

President of the Irish Dental Association Dr Noel Power attempts to allay some of the fears people have about going to the dentist. He believes a combination of modern techniques and equipment, as well as improved hygiene standards mean

There’s no real pain anymore.

People no longer need to be fearful of the dentist’s drill as it is now a less grating more refined instrument. Similarly with injections, the needles used now are finer and if people have a fear of them, surface anaesthetics can be used.

Dr Power believes prevention plays a great part in modern dentistry and he is convinced water fluoridation has contributed to a reduction in tooth decay. He would love to see the state provide all 12-16 year-old children with free dental care.

An ounce of prevention is worth a ton of cure and that’s what it’s all about in the future.

This episode of ‘Evening Extra’ was broadcast on 2 December 1987. The reporter is Shay Healy.