From the sound of the drill to the smell of sterile gloves, many of us may have some unpleasant associations with the work of our real-life tooth fairies. But now the needles used for local anesthesia injections may not have to be one of them!
New technological developments are aiming to make those injections a thing of the past with needle-free forms of anesthesia. Right now there are a number of needle-free anesthesia products on the market. You should check with your dentist to see if they use any at their practice.
Electronic anesthesia is a great alternative to local anesthesia injections for reducing pain during a tooth filling or dental cleaning. The most widely used form of electronic anesthesia is Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation or TENS. TENS allows patients to control the level of pain relief they receive using a handheld unit that attaches to the stimulation pads placed near the site of the procedure.
TENS works by delivering a low-voltage electrical current to the site; this current can help with your nerves ability to send pain signals to the brain. One of the biggest advantages of using the TENS system is that there are no aftereffects. Once the electrodes are removed, you will be able to leave your dentist's office without worrying about having a numb chin or slurred speech. Another advantage is the elimination of allergic reactions. Some people have severe reactions to certain types of anesthesia, but since no anesthesia is used, you have nothing to worry about!
Needle-free subgingival anesthetics are also now being used during scaling and root planing procedures with great success. So called "deep cleaning" procedures used to require dental anesthesia injections to ensure patient comfort. But products like Oraqix® now allow for effective local anesthesia to be provided without needles.
How exactly does it work? The anesthesia is applied directly to the gum pocket with a special applicator. It takes about 30 seconds for the anesthetic to take full effect and you will remain numb for 15 to 30 minutes. If the procedure requires more time, additional applications of anesthetic can be made.
One of the biggest benefits of subgingival anesthesia is that since the anesthetic is confined to the gum tissues, you will not experience any lip or tongue numbness as you might with traditional anesthesia. That means no awkward fat-lip feeling after dental treatment!
Another product that could drastically change your visits to the dentist is gumEase®. These single-use, flexible, ring-shaped devices are placed in the freezer for at least 30 minutes before being fitted into the mouth. GumEase® rings are filled with a freeze-resistant liquid, making them easy to mold, and work quickly to numb teeth and gums enough to be used during most dental procedures.
GumEase® can be reapplied as necessary to ensure that you stay numb for your entire procedure. This cryoanesthetic method is effective for a dental filling, tooth extraction, dental crown, root canal, dental cleaning, scrapings and dental braces adjustment. Similar products are in development that can be used specifically for molars and wisdom teeth.
With all these new developments in needle-free anesthesia, injections could become a thing of the past along with their risk of negative side effects! Speak with your dentist about reducing the use of needles in your dental treatments. Remember, since these technologies are new, they may not be available through some dental offices and your dentist may prefer traditional anesthesia techniques during certain procedures.
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