Improve Local Anesthetic Delivery Simply, Efficiently With DentalVibe
As a practicing dentist for 24 years, Jason H. Goodchild, DMD, says he has always been cognizant of patient anxieties related to dental procedures and, as such, has made it a personal interest to explore all options for pain management.
"There are many reports of the continued prevalence of fear and anxiety in dental patients. For many, the anxiety is centered on the injection of local anesthesia," Goodchild says. "However, necessary dental procedures cannot begin without local anesthesia, so getting patients anesthetized is a vital step."
To improve the patient experience, Goodchild notes, clinicians have employed many different techniques over the years, including distraction. That's not distraction as in headphones, chair massages, or movies on the ceiling, but stimuli distraction.
One innovative device that utilizes this approach Goodchild endorses is DentalVibe®, a cordless, handheld tool that can be used with any anesthetic syringe. "DentalVibe uses distraction as a means of improving the experience of local anesthetic administration. The mechanism of action for the effectiveness of DentalVibe is based on the Gate Control Theory," he explains. "This theory describes a pain-modulating system in which a neural gate present in the spinal cord can open and close, thereby modulating the perception of pain and is based on the relative transmission speed of different nerve fibers."
"In the case of using DentalVibe around the site of local anesthetic administration, when vibration is applied as a counter stimulation to an anesthetic injection, the feelings of vibration will reach the brain before the pain sensation," he says. "The brain can perceive only one sensation at a time; therefore, the sensation that arrives at the brain first is the one that will be felt."
In other words, the vibration caused by DentalVibe will win the race to the brain ahead of the pain of the injection.
For successful DentalVibe use, Goodchild offers advice based on his own hands-on experience. "First, ‘prime' the area you are anesthetizing before actually doing the injection," he shares. "This means placing the DentalVibe on the area (using light pressure) for 12 to 15 seconds before injecting, and placing the syringe within 3 mm of one of the vibrating prongs. This allows for activation of the pressure and touch nerve fibers (A beta fibers) and for the sensation to reach the brain before introducing the counter stimulus of local anesthetic injection pain. Because the A beta fibers will have been activated and are quickly reaching the brain, the theory is the A delta and C fibers responsible for transmitting pain will be blocked, and little to no pain will be felt."
By improving the patient experience with DentalVibe, the practice also benefits, Goodchild submits. "DentalVibe is a very useful tool that has been a boon to my practice. I have a number of patients who request it, so I always have it on hand. Having a reputation as a clinician who gives pain-free injections can be a practice builder!"
Associate Clinical Professor, Creighton University School of Dentistry, Omaha, Nebraska; Adjunct Assistant Professor, Rutgers School of Dental Medicine, New Brunswick, New Jersey