A dentist has come up with a pain-free jab which delivers anaesthetic to the gums without patients feeling it.
Dr John Meechan, a senior lecturer in dental sciences at Newcastle University, led the team who invented the syringe which enables the anaesthetic to be mixed with a neutralising solution just before it is injected into a patient’s mouth which stop it being painful.
Dr Meechan said: ‘We think our idea has great potential to improve the comfort of dental injections, which will benefit all patients who need anaesthetics at the dentist.
‘The whole idea was to make dental injections more comfortable for patients and we’ve done that by changing the delivery system.’
Speaking on Radio 4’s Today programme, he added: ‘One of the things that causes pain during an injection is the solution in the cartridge, because the solution is very acidic and causes a stinging sensation.
‘The needle causes very little pain. The reason the solution has to be acidic is purely and simply for storage purposes. It has to be stored as an acid, otherwise its components lose activity. As soon as you activate the [new] syringe the two solutions mix so you have a neutral solution. This is an unfussy way of doing it.’
The Smart Dental Injection won a Medical Futures Innovation Award at a ceremony in London this week.
And Dr Meechan hopes his invention will be mass-produced so it can be available to dentists across the country.
Statistics from the NHS Information Centre show that 19% of women suffer from extreme dental anxiety, which leads to some never making an appointment, with 10% of men suffering with the phobia.
Case study: Smart Dental Injection System
Best Blue Sky Idea in the Dental & Oral Health Innovation Awards
Overall Winner – Dental & Oral Health Innovation Awards
What is it?
This is a modification of a local anaesthetic cartridge for dentists that allows a buffer
solution to be mixed with the anaesthetic, so as to cause less pain when injected.
One of the reasons dental injections are painful is because of the acidic content of the
anaesthetic, which is necessary to enable it to be made and stored.
This innovation allows a separate neutralising material to be mixed with the anaesthetic just before the injection, reducing discomfort and also shortening the time for the anaesthetic to take effect.
The team has designed a patent-protected, new double plunger for a syringe cartridge allowing the two substances to remain separate within the syringe until needed to be used.
At the moment, the team has produced a pre-production prototype of the injection system.
It is now looking for a manufacturer to produce it and to make it available for patients.
Who will use it?
Research conducted in 2009 found that 70% of British adults were anxious about having injections at the dentist.
Millions of dental injections per year are given by dentists. The team would like to see their
innovation become the standard method used by every dental surgery. With more than 16 billion injections administered annually around the world, the scope of this innovation in other areas, outside of dentistry is significant.
What did the judges say?
As with many of the best ideas, the simplicity of this innovation is what caught our attention. This forms a platform innovation that could have many potential uses outside of the dental market and we would like to see this being taken into clinical trials.