Did That Pinch A Little?
Question: Dr.Crapo: I’m writing because I want to know why in the twenty-first century, I can’t get a shot of novocaine without it lifting me out of my seat. As a kid, it hurt and it still hurts, and I’m not a needle-phobe. Is it just me? I talk to people who say things have changed, that getting a shot at the dentist is hardly anything. Well, excuse me! For years I saw this big guy who was as hairy as an ape and when he came at me with the needle, I knew it was going to be Nazi torture. After one horrific experience, I decided to see the gentler sex in hopes that the shot wouldn’t kill me. To my great anxiety and frustration, it was just as bad. When I left, I thought they must be trained to be sadists. And then…I just love it as they ask “did that pinch a little?” Pinch a little! It d?#! near killed me. Please tell me that there’s been progress – tell me I can get dental work where the needle doesn’t kill me. Just thinking about it makes me break out in a sweat.
Answer: About 1-3% of the population are ultra-sensitive to local anaesthetic procedures performed in dentistry. When you know this about yourself, work with your dentist; he/she can make adjustments in technique to make your experience much more comfortable. There are four basic elements that influence the degree of pain or comfort of the procedure. The first is the dentist’s technique and approach. Some dentists inspire confidence and relaxation in their patients. Their technique has their patients saying “I didn’t even feel that” or “did you just numb my gums?” The second element is part of the first; it has to do with the speed at which the liquid anaesthetic is placed. The secret – go slow! Fast delivery of the anaesthetic causes distension (swelling) of the gums and this hurts. The third element is needle sharpness. Manufacturers have perfected this to the point that most people cannot feel the penetration of the needle itself. The fourth element is critical. Most local anaesthetics have adrenaline in them to prolong their action. But this makes the anaesthetic sting. The solution – have your dentist start with an anaesthetic that has no adrenaline. If steps 1-3 are good, you’ll be amazed at the difference. Then when you’re numb, he can top up with the longer lasting anaesthetic. Yes things have changed as far as “shots” go. My preference for absolutely no pain at all is I.V. sedation. You will not feel the local anaesthetic and your dental appointment will be the best of your life.
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