For the first time there is an alternative to local anesthetic injections. For most procedures, fillings, cleaning, etc. it is now possible to have pain control with out being numbed up by a shot. We do this with a unit that is powered by a battery. Two small sponges are placed in the patients mouth or on the face. These are attached to a control box that the patient uses to select the depth of anesthesia. The sensation I felt when I used this was a pulsing itch. It has also been described as a mild tingle or twitch. You do not feel the intense numb "fat lip" of local anesthesia. It takes about 2 minutes once the machine is turned on before we can start.
We were asked to evaluate a machine by Clinical Research Associates. It was reported that about 6 out of 10 patients had no pain when using this. We found, however, that with the use of Nitrous Oxide many patients can have their work done without local anesthesia. Of our first 800 patients we had only 12% that did not have adequate anesthesia if they also used Nitrous Oxide. The combination is very effective. The absolute worst that can occur is that you must be numbed up with a local anesthetic as we have done for years.
As you may have guessed we are rather excited about this. A few patients had some minor discomfort but they preferred this to being numb for the next three hours. We did find it does not work well on our apprehensive patients. We found it does not work for extractions. Complex procedures such as deep fillings, crowns and bridges do not work as well as we would like.
One of our most recent studies used electronic signals to help give local anesthetic injections. We found patients preferred using electronic signals 4 to 1 over topical anesthesia when getting local anesthetic.
You do not have to use the electronic anesthesia. We will continue to use local anesthesia for those patients who prefer it. If you use electronic anesthesia we may ask you a few questions. It appears that no other dentist has tried using the combinations. We have kept statistics on the procedures it works for and have had 20 papers published in various dental journals and have 3 more being considered for publication. Dr. Q. spoke at the 6th International Congress on Dental Pain control held in Washington D.C. in 1990. He has also served as a consultant to the 3M company on this topic.