10/10/2013 07:01 EDT | Updated 01/23/2014 06:58 EST

Why You Should Fear the Dentist No More

If you are like 40 percent of the Canadian population, you have a strong fear of the dentist. According to Stats Canada, that's how many people in this country avoid dental care because they are afraid of the poking, scraping, gagging and choking that occur during dental and orthodontic treatments.

For some, it's a generalized fear but for others, it's an extreme anxiety that means they'll steer clear of the dentist at all costs. In a study last year discussed in a Huffington Post story, most of that fear is transmitted from parent to child.

But avoiding the dentist can have serious consequences for your teeth and for your overall health. Now, there's a solution. New dental technology, like the use of digital impressions, is ensuring a more comfortable experience and helping to dramatically reduce many patient fears tied to the dental chair. Patients can now avoid having the dreaded "goop" impression material shoved into their mouth on an uncomfortable plastic tray -- an experience that often causes gagging, drooling and difficulty breathing.

Instead, dentists and orthodontists can now use a sophisticated, high-tech wand to take pictures of your teeth and mouth, providing an immediate 3D impression with precision that is remarkable. The digital impression technology is readily available across Canada, but not many patients know about it yet.

Most people will need dental work at some point in their lives and most will need impressions for procedures such as crowns, implants, veneers and bridges as well as for teeth straightening treatments like Invisalign®. Digital scanning transforms what was once an onerous, stressful procedure into a fast, easy and anxiety-free trip to the dentist or orthodontist.

These digital scanners, like iTERO, are a pioneering product in a new era of digital dentistry. And I've already seen it alleviate my patients' apprehension about visiting the dentist.

There are also other benefits to digital scanning, including safety (no X-ray exposure), no pain and keeping the patient comfortable. For dentists and orthodontists, the scan results in a 3D model of a patients' mouth and bite which we can manipulate on the computer for a more accurate diagnosis and a better outcome for our patients. This new technology is quickly making traditional dental impressions -- and fear of the dentist -- passé. It's about time.