If you start feeling woozy at the mere mention of needles or dentists, then we’ve got some good news for you: Scientists at the University of São Paulo say they've developed a new, needle-free means of administering anesthetic during dental procedures. The new method, according to ScienceDaily, would replace needles with a tiny electric current.
In the study, published in Colloids and Surfaces B: Biointerfaces, researchers applied topical gel anesthetics to the mouth lining of a pig, then stimulated the gel with a tiny electric current. They found that the current caused the anesthetic to diffuse more effectively. In fact, the anesthetic's permeation through the pig's mouth lining increased 12-fold.
The researchers believe that the new electric current method, a process called iontophoresis, may be a viable replacement for injected anesthetic. According to ScienceDaily, this could help patients overcome their fear of dentists, and have implications for the treatment of other conditions, especially cancer. For now, the researchers are focused on developing an iontophoretic device that can be used in the mouth.
"Needle-free administration could save costs, improve patient compliance, facilitate application and decrease the risks of intoxication and contamination," Renata Fonseca Vianna Lopez, a co-author of the study, explained in a statement. "This may facilitate access to more effective and safe dental treatments for thousands of people around the world."