Hate the Wait?
Even the bravest dental patients probably don't enjoy that "fat lip" feeling associated with a shot of local anesthesia, not to mention the shot itself. The good news is there is an alternative -- intraosseous anesthesia. This type of dental anesthesia saves you time and discomfort in the dentist's chair. Who wouldn't go for that?
Intraosseous means "inside the bone." Intraosseous anesthesia is delivered directly into bone spaces around the teeth. If that seems like it would be painful, consider that local anesthesia is usually delivered into soft, sensitive tissue. By comparison, bone has significantly fewer pain receptors. Intraosseous anesthesia actually relies on less dental anesthesia to provide better numbness. The result is a virtually pain-free procedure and the chance to return to your normal activities much more quickly than usual.
Into the Bone
Before intraosseous anesthesia is administered, your dentist will take an X-ray of the affected area. This image will show your dentist not only the best spot for the injection but how to avoid hitting a nerve in the process. The dentist will then apply a topical anesthetic. He or she may administer a small dose of a local anesthetic. Don't panic -- this shot shouldn't hurt! What usually causes that stinging feeling isn't the needle but the pressure of the liquid inside the needle entering your tissue. Less liquid in the needle should mean little to no pain for you.
Your dentist will then use a specially designed handheld tool to puncture a tiny hole through the numbed gum and outer shell of bone. The local anesthesia is delivered right into this tiny opening and injected directly into the bone marrow. The entire tooth area becomes numb in about a minute.
No Bones About It
Intraosseous anesthesia is often combined with traditional anesthesia delivery methods during more difficult procedures where cavities have penetrated the pulp chamber of the tooth (the sensitive, innermost portion), such as a root canal. It is also used when traditional local anesthetics don't work. Dentists are starting to use intraosseous anesthesia for more routine procedures such as a tooth filling, dental crown or a simple tooth extraction.
Intraosseous anesthesia offers several advantages over traditional dental anesthesia. The anesthetic effect is quick, usually numbing the area within a minute. That means less time spent in the dentist's chair. The numbing is confined to a much smaller area than with traditional methods, so you won't suffer from a numb tongue or gums. The anesthetic affect also doesn't last much longer than half an hour, which means you can resume normal activities such as eating, talking and drinking right after your appointment. Intraosseous anesthesia also provides relief in normally hard-to-numb areas and provides deep pulpal anesthesia.