Ways of Reducing Pain When Getting Anesthetic at the Dentist The biggest fear most people have when visiting their dentist is the pain from the anesthetic (also known as freezing) needle. Getting needles, in general, can be tough, but the fact that the mouth is one of the more sensitive areas of your body compounds that problem. Bad experiences in the past also increase the fear most people have. I hear many stories about childhood experiences where the dentist shoved the needle in and would get upset if the patient complained.
Techniques in dentistry have changed, and even the anesthetic we use is different than years past. The anesthetics used today have a more profound effect than previous forms and last much longer as well. This is comforting in the fact that most patients won’t feel anything once the freezing is in. However, getting to that point leaves much to be desired for. Different procedures and instrument have emerged to help reduce the pain involved with delivering anesthetic. First, the needle diameter has been reduced significantly. This allows for a smaller area to be punctured which causes less pain. Second, many dentists will use topical anesthetics to numb the area a little before injecting. In theory, this is supposed to freeze the superficial area of the injection site, so that when the needle punctures the gums, there is decreased pain. There are varying testimonies of is efficacy but there is also evidence of a placebo effect so it doesn’t hurt to try it out. Warming the anesthetic before delivery also has been shown to lower pain. Now everyone knows the old adage, “do it quick, it hurts less”. However, in dentistry, this is not the case. Injecting slowly has been shown to cause much less pain than injecting quickly. This can be done manually or through a computerized delivery system such as the Dental Wand. Another effective method of decreasing pain is stimulating the nerves around the area of injection before the anesthetic is delivered. This can be done by rubbing the area with a cotton tip applicator or gently vibrating the area with your fingers. This masks the stimulus of the needle when it is inserted. A new instrument has been developed to create such a stimulus, known as the DentalVibe. These are just some ways your dentist can help reduce pain and anxiety in your dental visit. It is important for the dentist to make your appointment as comfortable as possible, it not only puts the patient at ease, but it reduces one of the bigger stresses the dentist feels also. These techniques and instruments can be discussed at your next appointment with your dentist.