Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Dental Injection

The amount of discomfort caused by any one dental injection can vary significantly. And even though so many patients are focused on the fact that a needle is involved, most of the pain from a dental injection is not related to the needle itself. Instead, it has to do with the location and type of tissue in which the shot is given.

Why is it not the needle's fault?
The needle initially does prick as it first enters the skin, but this only lasts for a split second. Once the needle is in position, the dentist does not move it around, so what would cause a further pricking sensation?

What is causing the pain?
The bulk of the discomfort that a patient experiences during an injection has to do with the act of placing a quantity of liquid (the anesthetic) into soft tissues. Shots in different locations have varying potential to hurt. It is the act of dispensing the anesthetic liquid into tissue that is painful.



Shots that are less likely to hurt:
Loose tissue: In some locations, the tissue receiving the injection is comparatively "loose," thus making it easy for the injected anesthetic solution to find a space to occupy.
  • In locations where the tissue is relatively loose and flabby, the anesthetic solution will flow into the tissue easily and you probably will not feel the injection process much at all. Shots given on the cheek side of a person's upper molars, and probably even this bicuspids, involve this type of tissue and are often remarkably painless.
Shots that are more likely to hurt:
Dense tissue: In other areas, the construction of the tissue will be dense and tight. The anesthetic solution is injected, and it must forcibly make its own space - this is what pinches so much.
  • In situations where the soft tissue receiving the injection is relatively tight and dense, the anesthetic liquid must force its way in. This type of instance is where you are likely to feel discomfort. As an example, injections given directly into the type of tight gum tissue that surrounds a person's teeth and covers over their palate are likely to pinch.
Will my shots hurt?
Ask your dentists what to expect with any specific injection. You may be pleasantly surprised to learn what they have to say.

What can I do to ease the pain?
Give your dentist some cooperation with the injection process. The more you cooperate with your dentist, the more pleasant the experience will be.
  • The more you rush your dentist, the more likely it is to hurt: One factor associated with ease with which the anesthetic solution can enter into soft tissue has to do with the rate at which it is injected. The slower the rate, the less potential there is for discomfort.
  • Be a cooperative patient: If you are an uncooperative patient, your dentist's natural instinct will be to speed up the injection process so it is finished more quickly. That is the exact opposite of what you want.
  • Help your dentist be on-target, the first time: When a dentist performs a dental injection, they must place the anesthetic in the proper location. This takes a little concentration. If the dentist is focused on your behavior, as opposed to just performing the injection, it will increase the likelihood that the injection will be off-target and additional shots will be required. 
  • If you want it to hurt, it will: Some people place themselves in a position of creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. They expect the injection to hurt and therefore do not give the process a chance, thus making a guaranteed unpleasant experience. 
If you have apprehensions about injections, let your dentist know in advance. They can address your concerns and take steps to make the process as pleasant for you as possible.

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