As dentists, we are aware that our patients are afraid of receiving anaesthetic injections. It’s the needle and the anticipation of the pain that does it – and it’s a big problem. For us, it can be a real issue. While we may be very skilled at administering anaesthetic, when faced with a nervous patient things become a little more complicated and, if the procedure goes poorly, we can be left doubting our own skills. In the case of extremely nervous patients, who we have had a great deal of difficulty injecting, we sometimes think it would just have been easy to sedate the patient from the outset. But sedation, of course, is just a short-term fix. It benefits us, as the clinician, more than the patient – it doesn’t remedy their fear.
As such, there has been a succession of different delivery systems for anaesthesia that have attempted to alleviate our patient’s fears. One of the most popular options is the anaesthetic wand. This device gives patients a much calmer and gentler injection due to its computerised delivery mechanism. It’s a great piece of kit and many dental practices have adopted it into every day procedures – mine included. I’ve actually found that my patients, who have historically been afraid of injections, have responded very positively to the wand – and have really appreciated the alternative option.
However, at the end of the day, the wand still uses a needle.
What dentists have been looking for, then, is the needleless anaesthetic – the Holy Grail of dentistry. This is why an article in the news piqued my interest recently. Apparently, a company in America has developed a completely needle-free option that consists of a simple nasal spray.
From the information we have available, this new nasal spray system looks quite promising. It induces minimal side effects (runny noses mostly) and is demonstrably effective. Unfortunately, it is only effective at numbing from one upper pre-molar to the other – and this, as we all know, is the area in which we are probably the most skilled at administering anaesthetic already.
What we need, therefore, is a system that will let us anaesthetise the lower mandibular molars – especially those with hot pulps. This is the hardest area to anaesthetise and unfortunately the nasal spray may be the wrong pharmaceutical to inhale for adequate relief.
As such, I can’t see this new system being revolutionary. I do believe that anything that helps our patients feel more at ease in the treatment room is of great value and I do not doubt that in very specific circumstances, this nasal spray will be an effective option. Patients in need of very simple restorative procedures, who are scared of the needle, will undoubtedly benefit – and this is not something to scoff at.
But for other procedures, we will simply have to rely on the tools we have available now and, for the time being, the quest for that Holy Grail must continue.
For further information please call EndoCare on 020 7224 0999
Or visit www.endocare.co.uk
EndoCare, led by Dr Michael Sultan, is one of the UK’s most trusted Specialist Endodontist practices. Through the use of the latest technologies and techniques, the highly-trained team can offer exceptional standards of care – always putting the patient first. What’s more, EndoCare is a dependable referral centre, to which dentists from across the country send their patients for the best in specialist endodontic treatment.