Dental hygienist and therapist, Mel Prebble, talks about the clinical benefits of needle-free anaesthesia and how it can greatly improve the overall patient experience.

Administering anaesthesia is a situation that dental hygienists and therapists find a particular challenge when we are treating anxious or needle-phobic patients. Taking the discomfort out of hygiene and periodontal treatment is something every hygienist or therapist should strive for, but it’s not always easy, knowing few patients relish the idea of having an injection in any part of their mouth.

According to statistics from the National Smile Month website, almost half of UK adults have a fear of visiting the dentist, with around 12% of these suffering from an extreme dental anxiety or phobia. This means we need to take extra care of our more anxious patients and it’s important that we spend time discussing concerns over their treatment and find ways to help take away their fears.

Traditionally we have always used a needle to administer local anaesthetic to numb our patients’ mouths before treatment, especially those suffering from the discomfort of gum pain and tooth sensitivity. However, with so many patients fearful of injections and the perceived pain they may cause, we need to have an alternative to hand and there is one needle-free anaesthesia that I use on my patients on a daily basis and one that I could not be without – Oraqix from Dentsply Sirona.

I choose to administer Oraqix for two main reasons; firstly the obvious clinical benefits of needle-free anaesthesia, and secondly how this greatly improves the patient experience, especially those who have a greater degree of tenderness, anxiety or sensitivity. If you can take a patient’s discomfort away without the use of a needle, not only will you get better results, they are more likely to keep returning and more likely to recommend you to their friends and family.

How it works

Oraqix is a combination of lidocaine and prilocaine, a fast-acting topical application that offers a host of benefits to both user and patient. It requires no additional training to use and is easy to apply using cartridges fitted into a specifically-designed dispenser. When the formulation is applied it starts out as a liquid that flows into the periodontal pocket, where cleverly the warmth of the mouth makes it set into a gel-like substance, allowing the anaesthetic to be quickly absorbed into the soft tissue. It’s the fast onset that is so important – within 30 seconds even the deepest pocket is numb, the patient is comfortable, and treatment can begin.

Whilst Oraqix has been available for many years – I was actually part of its testing and development some 15 years ago – there is still no other product quite like it. It’s suitable for the majority of patients and can be used for a variety of treatments including non-surgical periodontal therapy and scaling deep pockets and I use it routinely for patients who are in maintenance.

Some dental professionals may argue that using needle-free anaesthesia adds to the overall cost of treatment over standard injections. However, in my experience patients much prefer not having an injection, and many actually ask me to use ‘that special gel you used on me last time!’ Happy patients are more likely to keep coming back, which in turn means it’s not an added expense but actually a real practice-builder.

For me and for my patients, Oraqix is the ideal needle-free anaesthesia and, just like my trusty Cavitron, it’s a definite part of my kit – not a maybe. This simple but effective procedure improves the patient experience by making them more comfortable and less anxious and means I can ultimately do a much better job.


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