Natalie Haynes: A bark isn't actually worse than a bite

The thing is...

Share
Related Topics

Researchers at King's College London have announced the invention of a device which could save the teeth of a nation. They have created a chip which will block out the sound of the dentist's drill. The gadget can be plugged into your MP3 player while you sit in the dentist's chair, and will leave you unable to hear the drill, but perfectly able to hear the words of the dentist, as she explains that this might hurt a bit.

In other words, you won't be completely isolated from any sounds, which would be terrifying. But you will lose the high-pitched whining sound (unless your dentist has that kind of voice, in which case you're on your own).

The research team have noted that many people don't go to the dentist because of anxiety about the sound of the drill, and claim: "This device has the potential to make fear of the drill a thing of the past." Which it does, but only once they've invented another add-on device, which makes all the pain and the drilling go away entirely.

Because here's the thing: most people aren't scared of the sound of the drill because it is a horrible noise (although it is). They're scared of the sound of the drill because at least nine times out of 10, it heralds the arrival of the actual drill. And that is something they quite reasonably associate with someone drilling into their teeth, which is the thing they're actually afraid of.

It's pretty much the same as people who are afraid of dogs: they're afraid of barking too, but only because there's usually a dog attached to it. And even if the dog doesn't bark, they're still going to be afraid of it.

Drill-phobics aren't going to suddenly lose their fear of pain if the noise that accompanies it disappears.Although if you have music playing as the dentist drills, I suppose you might gain a whole new fear of tunes you previously liked: I would have thought that listening to a song while someone gives you a root canal was pretty much guaranteed to make you never listen to that song again, and start whimpering if you heard it playing in a shop, or a bar, or when a close friend walked down the aisle.

The advantage of the drilling sound is that you only hear it at the dentist. So you don't start weeping uncontrollably anywhere else.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Experienced Bookkeeper - German Speaking - Part Time

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This firm of accountants based ...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£30000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are a financial services c...

Ashdown Group: Field Service Engineer

£30000 - £32000 per annum + car allowance and on call: Ashdown Group: A succes...

Recruitment Genius: Sales & Marketing Co-Ordinator

£15000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Well established small company ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A woman runs down the street  

Should wolf-whistling be reported to the Police? If you're Poppy Smart, then yes

Jane Merrick
 

Voices in Danger: How can we prevent journalists from being sexually assaulted in conflict zones?

Heather Blake
Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence