Oraqix® Gel: A Safe and Effective Alternative to Injectable Anesthesia
Many patients become fearful when the topic of anesthetics comes up during their dental visits. However, long-time practicing hygienist, columnist, and educator, Kim Miller, RDH, BSDH, has found a needle-free anesthetic that she can count on, with the added bonus of no prolonged numbing effects for the patient. “When you are doing any procedure, especially one that involves infection and pocketing, the primary goal is to keep the patient comfortable, and do what is in the best interest of that patient. Oraqix® Gel allows me to meet these goals in pockets up to 6 mm,” says Miller.
Oraqix, a combination of lidocaine and prilocaine, is uniquely combined with a patented, thermosetting system to deliver pain relief where it is needed. In as little as 30 seconds, Oraqix provides sufficient anesthesia for most scaling and/or root planing patients, so dentists and dental hygienists can perform these procedures quickly and effectively.
“Some hygienists say that they do not need anesthetics, because they know how to perform scaling and root planing without hurting the patient,” Miller says. “My response has always been, won’t you do a more efficient job when your patient is numb and comfortable knowing you aren’t going to hurt them? Their answer should be yes.”
By eliminating the needle, Oraqix helps put patients at ease from the start. Administered topically at and below the gum line, Oraqix thickens at body temperature into an elastic gel. The gel remains in place while the anesthetic takes effect and is removed once scaling is initiated. The anesthetizing effects cannot be washed away with water. Miller explains, “It couldn’t be easier to use. We all know topical anesthetics, the kind used prior to an injection, just aren’t effective for patients undergoing periodontal scaling and/or root planing.”
In January 2017, the American Dental Association released a new code (D4346) for gingivitis, which is indicated for patients who have swollen, inflamed gingiva, generalized suprabony pockets, and moderate-to-severe bleeding on probing. “For patients to qualify under this code, they cannot have bone loss,” Miller emphasizes. “It’s important that we are utilizing this code with patients who meet the criteria. For example, a patient may have severe gingivitis, NUG (necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis) or ANUG (acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis), making him hypersensitive. Even rubber cup polishing can be excruciatingly painful. Patients like these are perfect candidates for Oraqix. Even with infection in suprabony pockets (typically 3 mm to 5 mm) Oraqix will keep my patient comfortable and allow me to do an initial procedure that would fall under the umbrella of the D4346 code.”
Oraqix is safe for inflamed tissues, is FDA approved with a well-established safety profile, and up to five cartridges can be applied in a single procedure. The anesthetic effect lasts about 20 minutes. These features help ensure patients experience reduced pain and increased comfort with needle-free Oraqix, making them more willing to return for follow-up periodontal maintenance.
A word of caution: some topical anesthetics tend to have a very low pH (≤3.5, very acidic). Products in that range are contraindicated for use on inflamed or denuded tissue. However, others, like Oraqix Gel, have a neutral ≥7.0 pH and are approved for use on patients who have an active infection with inflamed and denuded tissues. Miller adds, “The pH difference is a game-changer. Knowing that Oraqix is safe and effective means we can make the best anesthetic choice for our patients and practices.”
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