No More Needles

Millions of Americans are affected by some form of oral disease, and most cases are considered preventable.  Individuals who do not follow a consistent, effective oral hygiene routine, including brushing twice a day and flossing regularly, put themselves at a much greater risk of developing a health problem.  Many also avoid going to the dentist, which contributes to the growing number of patients suffering from periodontal disease, among other conditions, which have been recently linked to other chronic diseases, such as dementia, diabetes, and heart disease.  While the number one excuse given by those who skip the dentist relates to finances, coming in a close second is dental phobia, or a fear of all things “dental.”

Dental phobia can be triggered by a number of causes.  Some individuals are afraid of the pain associated with dental treatments while others are scared of any bad news their dentist might have to pass along.  For many, the thought of needles is enough to keep them away, considering how often anesthesia is delivered for the most common of treatments.  But a recent study conducted at the University of Buffalo brings good news for the millions that experience this fear.  According to a Dental Tribune article, scientists have been testing the efficacy and safety of a nasal anesthetic spray that could one day replace the use of needles.

The study involved 45 healthy adults who required restoration of one maxillary tooth.  30 of the individuals received the nasal spray while 15 received a lidocaine injection.  Because 83% of patients receiving the nasal spray did not require additional anesthesia, the spray was found to be as effective as the standard anesthetic.  The nasal dental anesthetic spray is called Kovacaine Mist and was developed by a Colorado-based research company, St. Renatus.  It was designed to be used in hard-tissue procedures, like fillings and crown preparation, and can only be used for the upper teeth.  When using the nasal spray, only the teeth and gums experience the effects, not the patient’s face or lips, according to the company.  Trials will still be necessary to validate the research findings, but this new product is certainly gaining a lot of attention as the next big thing.  Needle-fearing patients rejoice!

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