Needle phobia is a severe fear of needles or injections of any kind. Some people are fearful about injections only in the dental environment. Others avoid injections for medical examinations, blood work, vaccinations or medical procedures. This fear can lead people to avoid needed medical care. While the cause is often a learned fear from a bad experience, some doctors believe that the cause may actually be genetic. The question is, “What kinds of help are available for patients so they can receive the care they need. Our New York City office has many techniques and solutions, depending on the needs of the patient.
How can we help?
There are many solutions for needle phobia including nitrous oxide, various types of sedation, and an understanding dentist. Modern technology provides, even more, solutions to help people with dental needle phobia. Laser dentistry is a great option and has a variety of benefits. The first step is support and understanding of the issue. We start with a discussion of the patient’s past experiences which may include a previous doctor who was perceived as rough or stern. For many patients, letting them know that we have a gentle touch, backed by up-to-date techniques is all they need. However, other patients may have a history of panic attack or fainting associated with injections. For these more advanced cases, some type of medication to relax the patient is usually recommended. Some patients just need “something to take the edge off,” others need a deeper level of sedation. Each patient is treated as an individual to give them what they need to be comfortable. We listen and get the history of the patient’s experiences so that we know how we can best help.
- Premedication with medication for anxiety, is sufficient for most patients. It is often followed by deeper sedation if the dental procedures are prolonged or involved.
- Patients can have complete anesthesia just by breathing a gas, called an “inhalation induction,” if needed.
- Laser dentistry can accomplish dental work without the use of needles by generating a beam of concentrated light energy to a precise area. Laser technology is used to treat tooth decay and gum disease.
- Advanced formulations of topical gels are available.
- “The Wand” is available. It’s a computer controlled device that controls the speed of injection, and therefore can create less pressure. “The Wand” looks a lot less like a syringe, which helps many people feel more secure.
- For some patients, just reading this article is very difficult. Just the thought of an injection may be too much for some people. Even so, there are many ways we can help. Talk to us, and we’ll work out a plan that will address your concerns and help ease your needle phobia.
What can I do if I don’t get numb?
Some patients have difficulty becoming fully numbed with local anesthetic. As with anything in our body, some people simply react differently to anesthetics. A few different reasons can be the cause.
First, in some patients, their time where the anesthetic is effective is very short. Their body simply removes it from their system quickly, making the numbness wear off faster.
Second, some people have variations in the nerves servicing their teeth, especially their lower molars. There are cases where the patient has four different nerves leading into the lower molars.
Third, if a patient is experiencing an infection of the tooth, this means the nerve has now become inflamed. It can actually become more easily stimulated. Nerves in this condition will require treating the infection first or more local anesthetic.
These aren’t deal breakers, by any means. With any of these occurrences, we may need a different method to deliver the anesthetic and obtain numbness. If you have a history of difficulty achieving full numbness, let us know because we can help. We have many alternative options and various methods to deliver anesthetics. We can start with some nitrous oxide (laughing gas) to relax you before working on local anesthetic, or oral or IV sedation may be the way to go. Point is, Dr. Siegelman has made it the goal of his practice to help patients overcome dental anxiety — we can find a solution, so you’re assured to not feel a thing.
How can you assure I won’t feel any pain?
Modern dental techniques, anesthetics, and sedation have come a long way. For some patients, sedation is a great way to thoroughly relax during your appointment. When you are sedated, you’ll have little to no sensation when getting numb. The local anesthetic Dr. Siegelman and Dr. Ng then use, coupled with their expertise at placing it, ensures you won’t feel a thing. And thanks to sedation, you will feel calm, and in some cases won’t remember much of the appointment either! We offer several types of anesthesia, including local, nitrous oxide, oral, intravenous, or general. We will work together to find out which sedation option is best for you.
Can nitrous oxide be used before an injectable anesthetic?
Another option is our team can give you inhaled nitrous oxide prior to numbing. Laughing gas takes effect immediately upon inhaling and it maintains its effect as long as the small mask is over your nose. Nitrous oxide is a safe and effective precursor to the local anesthetic.
Are dental needles painful?
At Dr. Siegelman’s, we only use brand new, fully sterilized needles for every delivery of anesthetic. These are completely safe and effective. Plus, as mentioned above, today’s needles are quite small, making them more comfortable.
Compared with the safety of anesthetics and needles, avoiding the dentist and not having your teeth examined, cleaned, and cared for is not safe at all. A healthy mouth impacts your overall wellness. There are so many benefits of a healthy smile and we’ll do everything we can to make your appointment a comfortable and positive experience.
What are my alternatives to injections?
Most patients with severe dental anxiety or needle phobia respond well to sedation. By taking the edge off, they are able to relax and receive comfortable dental care. Plus, Dr. Siegelman, his team, and the environment of our Manhattan office are focused on providing positive dental experiences for all our patients.
Still, if you completely want to avoid injections, laser dentistry could give you a whole new perspective on dental treatment. Rather than drills, dental lasers use concentrated light energy to remove decay or infected gum tissue.
It does this without the need for anesthetic injections. Our lasers aren’t right for all procedures, but they could be great for you and they could help you overcome some of your anxiety.
Another option is “The Wand.” Rather than making a rabbit magically appear from a hat, this “wand” is a computer-controlled device that controls the speed of the injection. It doesn’t look like a typical syringe, and this also helps ease any fear.
Topical anesthetics are always applied to numb the area prior to any injection. The numbing jelly helps so you won’t feel the injection, however, there still is an injection, but a more comfortable one.
Onset is a buffering system that improves the efficiency of the local anesthetic and ensures a comfortable delivery. In our office onset is a standard of care with all patients using only local anesthetic for a procedure because your comfort is always a top priority.
Benefits of laser dentistry over traditional dentistry
Dental lasers continue to have a growing role in the dental world. They are excellent at removing decayed matter from a tooth and preparing the tooth for placement of a filling. They are also great for treating gum disease. The laser energy can instantly vaporize the infected gum tissue, without discomfort. Plus, the laser energy instantly cauterizes the incision, so the patient doesn’t usually need any sutures. Bleeding is only minimal, as well. Lasers used for gum disease or gum contouring also make for little or no discomfort afterward. They also dramatically lower the chances of infection and minimize recovery time.
At this point, laser energy can’t be used for all procedures, but they are changing the way Dr. Siegelman and others are able to remove decay, prepare a tooth for a filling or root canal, and remove unwanted gum tissue.