On the Cusp

What’s new in the dental office?

Dr. Randall Lawson

First, I’d like to wish a Happy New Year to everyone reading the paper.  We hope that 2014 finds you well and resolved to make this year your best year ever. The holiday season is wonderful for visiting with family and friends, and we were blessed to have our daughter visit us from Texas.

While she was here, I reminded her that the last time she was here we had found a small cavity, and I asked her if she would like for me to restore it for her. She was quite reluctant for me to do this, and when I asked her why, she replied that she (like the majority of all dental patients) did not like the pain from the injection of the anesthetic. She also said that when the procedure was finished, she didn’t like waiting for the numbness to go away, and that she was going to visit some friends and didn’t want to have half of her face asleep through the visit. I told her that there were some new developments that helped make these two issues less of an inconvenience, although they don’t completely eliminate them. At this, she decided to go ahead with the procedure.

The first issue we addressed was the discomfort of the injection. We have available stronger topical anesthetics (that stuff we rub on before the injection), which are combinations of three different agents and thus are more effective in numbing the surface of the gum prior to the injection. After applying this and allowing it to set for one to two minutes, I used another new instrument called The DentalVibe. The DentalVibe uses vibration to override the pinch of the needle. We have known for a long time that movement can keep pain sensations from reaching the brain as strongly as they would otherwise (think about how shaking your hand after you hit your thumb with a hammer keeps it from hurting so much). We have used this over the years to limit pain by shaking the lip as we inject. The DentalVibe simply takes this technique to a higher level by actually vibrating the tissue alongside the injection site. There are some areas where this instrument doesn’t work as well or that we can’t get it positioned properly, but on the whole, patients are pleased with its effectiveness. My daughter said she didn’t feel anything.

Once we had finished her filling, I used another new product, called Oraverse, to shorten the time she felt the numbness afterward. This medication is injected into the same site as the original injection of anesthetic and can dramatically shorten the duration of anesthesia. According to the manufacturer, it cuts it by at least half. In my daughter’s case, I would say it shortened it more than that, but in other patient, it would seem that it is about half the normal duration of anesthesia following use of this agent. She was delighted that she could function normally again so soon. The effectiveness does seem to vary by the area that we are working, with some areas taking longer to have sensation return. The disadvantage to this is that the Oraverse is only produced by one company, and thus is relatively expensive-adding about $15 to a procedure, but if you need to avoid the drooping face for an important occasion, it can be worth the extra cost.

Too soon my daughter’s visit ended but at least her dental visit did not detract from its pleasure. If you would like more information on these new products, the following websites might be useful www.dentalvibe.com and www.oraverse.com. Thanks for reading.

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