Researchers from Brazil and Texas have started testing a new strategy on humans to increase the effectiveness of topical anesthesia used in dentistry.
The topic was highlighted during Sao Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP) Week held in September in Lincoln, Nebraska, and Lubbock, Texas, a special event organized to foster collaborative research between scientists in Sao Paulo and the United States.
The strategy involves a small device that contains 57 microneedles, which, when placed on the gums, cheek or other location in the mouth to be anesthetized, makes tiny holes through which anesthetic substances like lidocaine can penetrate deeper into regions of the oral mucosa. Prior to the FAPESP presentation, the method had already been tested on 10 patients in a preliminary test and was well-tolerated.
“Included among our objectives is measuring the pain caused by the 700 micrometer-length microneedles, as well as determining the effectiveness of this system in expanding the action of the topical anesthesia,” said Harvinder Gill, PhD, a professor in the department of chemical engineering at Texas Tech University and one of the researchers on the project.
The fear of the injection is one of the main reasons that cause patients to develop dental phobia and avoid dental treatments which can negatively impact the population’s oral health, according to researchers.
“That situation causes anxiety for patients and dentists alike and could compromise the treatment outcome,” Dr. Gill said.
Learn more about the Sao Paulo Foundation and the FAPESP Week research at fapesp.br/en.