Most people agree that one of the more unpleasant aspects associated with a trip to the dentist is the feeling when you get an injection. However, it's likely that you are misunderstanding the source of the discomfort. What's the real reason you're worried about that shot, and how are new developments helping to eliminate any pain?
It May Not Be The Needle
The vast majority of dentists are able to administer local anaesthetic before a procedure without causing too much discomfort to the patient. However, often the patient will notice a pinching sensation and will – incorrectly – associate this with the sharp end of the needle. In fact, what happens is that the actual anaesthetic itself causes some pressure as it makes its way into the tissues. As the anaesthetic liquid enters it causes the tissue to stretch and that actually causes the pinching sensation.
Speed Of Injection Is Critical
Dentists are aware that the "speed" of the injection is a key factor. They know that they need to take time to let the anaesthetic enter slowly, in order to reduce the pinching sensation. However, one of the issues facing the dentist is knowing just how slowly to do this and as a consequence the industry has come up with an ideal solution.
Computers To The Rescue
Now dentists are able to take advantage of a computer-controlled delivery system for local anaesthetic. These units can be calibrated in order to deliver the numbing agent at a very precise rate. It's likely to be far more precise than even the best and most experienced dentist would be able to achieve alone.
Using Numbing Agents
Should you be worried about the moment that the needle actually pricks your skin? When using computer-controlled delivery methods, this is likely to be the only time when you feel anything at all. Even so, dentists will often administer an extra numbing agent first, using a proprietary gel.
If you are particularly sensitive, then there may even be additional solutions for you. Discuss with your dentist whether you can take something known as a "conscious sedation" aid. For example, you may be able to take a sedative via a pill or a liquid. Many practitioners use prescription painkillers for just such an occasion. You will need to take this up to an hour before the procedure though, so will need to allow extra time for your visit to the dentist.