A new method for delivering dental anesthetic could eliminate injections and encourage millions of people to seek the dental treatment they need but otherwise avoid due to a fear of needles.
Anesthetic Injections and Dental Treatment
Some cosmetic dentistry and restorative dentistry procedures require the use of anesthetic in order to block pain and relax the muscles of the jaws and mouth for ease of treatment. Anesthetic is typically administered via injection through a tiny needle.
Although the injection results in just a moment of temporary discomfort, many people steer clear of dental treatments that involve injectable anesthetics due to a fear of needles. One method for coping with this is to first provide a topical, gel-like painkiller that numbs the injection site and can help calm anxiety, but even this step sometimes isn’t enough for those who have true needle phobia.
A Needle-Free Approach
Recent research conducted at Brazil’s University of Sao Paulo focused on finding methods for delivering topical anesthetics more effectively. Scientists added a polymer to commonly used topical gels in order to help the gels adhere to the mouth.
Researchers then applied a mild electric current to stimulate a process known as iontophoresis, which is a means for getting the body to absorb medicinal compounds through the skin. This helped the anesthetic take effect more quickly and extended the duration of its action.
In addition to providing hope for those with needle phobia, the process could save money and help limit the risks of contamination or infection; it also holds promise for applications outside of dentistry. However, researchers must conduct additional trials and develop a delivery device before the procedure is widely available.
The Reality of Needle Phobia
The fear of needles is thought to affect at least 10 percent and perhaps as much as 25 percent of adults. It was recognized as a phobia by the American Psychiatric Association in 1994, and it prevents many people from receiving needed dental treatments or other forms of medical care.
Although the needle alternative discussed in this post is not yet available to patients, there are other options. Many people who suffer from needle phobia or dental anxiety have turned to sedation dentistry, which uses an oral sedative to put you in a state of deep relaxation for your dental visit.
Don’t let fear prevent you from having a vibrant, healthy smile. If you’re in need of dental treatment but worry about needles or discomfort, Austin dentist Dr. Dan Matthews can discuss your options with you. Please call the Bee Cave Road office of Dan Matthews, DDS, today at 512-452-2273 to learn more or schedule an appointment.