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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Introduction to Dental Pain Control

Many people are anxious about going to the dentist. Anxiety about dental visits can be caused by fear of having dental injections (shots). Some people dread the sound of the dental drill, or even the sight of dental instruments, some of which are sharp and can look threatening. Most dentists offer ways to help you relax. You can listen to music through headphones or watch a movie.

Many patients are anxious because they fear pain. Long ago, dental fear about pain made sense. There were no numbing shots. If a patient needed anesthesia, he or she was hit on the head and literally "knocked out." Later, less violent methods included opium, belladonna and alcohol. Still, treatment had to be done quickly before the drugs wore off.

These days, no one should expect pain at the dentist's office. Many sedatives and types of anesthesia are available. There are more ways to experience pain-free dental treatment than ever before. Even the sting of the numbing needle can now be avoided: Dentists can use numbing gels and computer-guided injection methods.

Local anesthetics provide you with a pain-free experience. The local anesthetics used today are typically lidocaine or carbocaine. Many years ago, Novocain was a popular local anesthetic. It is often used by patients and dentists as a general name for all local anesthetics that are given by injection.

Newer methods, such as electronic anesthesia, allow you to escape needles completely. This involves impulses sent through electrodes to help block pain. Usually, your dentist will test the numbed area to make sure the anesthetic is working before beginning treatment. But always tell your dentist if you don't think your pain control is working, or if you feel it starting to wear off. Your dentist can't always tell when you are uncomfortable.

You also can arrange a signal (such as a raised finger or hand) that will let your dentist know if you are feeling any pain or discomfort, or if you need a short break.

1 comment:

  1. Speaking of "knocking the patient off" in order not to experience the pain of dental procedures, my Atlanta sedation dentist did introduce me more about the use of sedatives in dentistry. I felt all groggy while he was doing the needed procedures on my molars, and sedation helped me not to feel all the pain and anxiety.

    I guess that for patients with an overwhelming fear of dental operations, the one who can help them is a sedation dentist. Atlanta is home to a number of these professionals.