Let’s face it, many people are afraid of going to the dentist. Whether it’s the sounds of the dental instruments, that “dental office smell,” or the dreaded needles, people postpone or even cancel important dental visits out of fear. Unfortunately, pushing off going to the dentist actually increases your risk of more invasive procedures down the road. For those who are afraid of needles, a recent study published in Colloids and Surfaces B: Biointerfaces contains some good news. It looks like needles may be on the way out at the dentist’s office.

“Just a Slight Pinch”

To be more specific, the researchers have figured out a way to apply numbing medication using a tiny electrical current in lieu of a needle. Traditionally when you go to the dentist you will be given a topical painkiller that is typically composed of lidocaine and prilocaine. This numbs your gums around the intended injection site enough so that when the dentist gives gives you an anesthetic using a needle, all that you should feel is a slight pinch.

For this study, the researchers prepared a similar topical anesthetic comprised of lidocaine hydrochloride and prilocaine hydrochloride combined with a polymer so that it will stick inside the mouth. They then placed the anesthetic inside the mouth of a pig and applied a tiny electric current so that the painkillers would enter the body more effectively. They found the process, known as iontophoresis, was very effective. Not only did the painkillers enter the body faster, but they also lasted longer and the anesthetic was 12 times more effective at penetrating into the mouth.

Not So Fast…

Unfortunately, this technology is in the pre-clinical trials phase, which means that it may be a while before you see this technology in your local dentist’s office. With that being said, there are things that you can do now if you struggle with dental anxiety. Studies have shown that therapy is successful is dealing with dental anxiety.

In addition, many dentists, including Dr. Michael Weinstock, offer sedation dentistry which can help make your visit to the dentist a more relaxing experience. If you are in the Orlando area and are tired of dealing with dental anxiety, or have any questions about what sedation dentistry can do for you, please give Michael L. Weinstock, DDS in Altamonte Springs a call at (407) 834-6446.