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Needle-Free Anesthesia and Anesthesia Alternatives

From your standpoint, you can probably come up with a valid list of reasons to skip your next dental appointment. From the sound of the drill to the smell of sterile gloves, it’s not hard to develop unpleasant associations with the dental chair. But with more and more dentists using needle-free anesthesia as an alternative to giving local anesthesia injections, you no longer have to fear getting shots on your next trip to the dentists.

New advancements in pain-free dentistry aim to make injections and needles a thing of the past. Now there are multiple needle-free anesthesia products on the market. Your dentist may already be using them.


Electronic Anesthesia

Electronic anesthesia is a great alternative to local anesthesia injections for reducing pain during a tooth filling or dental cleaning. The most widely used form of electronic anesthesia is Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation, or TENS. This technology allows patients to control the level of pain relief they receive using a handheld unit that attaches to the stimulation pads placed near the site of the procedure.

TENS works by delivering a low-voltage electrical current to the site of the procedure. The current essentially turns off the pain signals your nerves send to the brain. An important benefit of using the TENS system is that there are no after effects. That means once your dentist removes the electrodes, you go back to normal. No slurred speech or numbness that makes your face droop. You don’t have to worry about biting your tongue because your dexterity has fully returned.

Electonic anesthesia also eliminates the threat of having an adverse reaction to a local anesthetic. Some people have severe reactions to certain types of anesthesia. In this case, there is no anesthesia to trigger a bad reaction.


Subgingival Anesthesia

Your dentist may use subgingival anesthesia  during scaling and root planing procedures with great success. Deep cleaning procedures used to require dental anesthesia injections to minimize pain and ensure patient comfort. Now, some products provide an effective local anesthesia without the use of needles.

The needle-free anesthesia is applied directly to the gum pocket with a special applicator. It takes about 30 seconds for the anesthetic to take full effect. Once it doesn, you remain numb for 15 to 30 minutes. If the procedure requires more time, you will receive more anesthetic.

Subgingival anesthesia is used only on the gum tissues, so you won’t experience any lip or tongue numbness as you would after a dental treatment with in which your dentist used traditional anesthesia. So, again, no numbness, droopy lips, or accidentally biting yourself.



Your dentist may offer a “freeze / apply at home” option for post-procedural narcotic free cold therapy relief. Marketed as OraChill the manufacturer claims that it compliments traditional anesthesia methods.  It can be used to reduce pain from TMJ, migraine and tension headaches, and mouth ulcers caused by chemotherapy treatments. 

With all these new developments in needle-free anesthesia, injections could (or should) become a thing of the past. Speak with your dentist about reducing the use of needles in your dental treatments. Since these technologies are relatively new, your dentist may prefer traditional anesthesia techniques during certain procedures.

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