BUFFALO, N.Y. – One of the most dreaded experiences at the
dentist’s office is an injection into the tissues of the
mouth to numb an area requiring a painful dental procedure.
But thanks to recent research at the University at Buffalo
School of Dental Medicine, these injections may be a thing of the
past – at least for some procedures.
Sebastian G. Ciancio, DDS, UB Distinguished Service Professor,
chair of periodontics and endodontics, director of the Center of
Dental Studies and his research team recently published the results
of a study in the Journal of Dental Research examining the
effectiveness, safety and tolerability of nasal anesthesia spray to
produce numbness of maxillary teeth (the upper teeth). The study
was approved for Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Phase 2
According to Ciancio, dentists have several concerns when
administering injectable anesthesia that include but are not
limited to the patient’s concern with the needle stick.
“Injection carries several disadvantages. The most obvious
is the patient’s fear of pain. But injections also carry the
possibility of exposure to blood-borne pathogens via needle stick;
the risk that the anesthesia may not be effective; and injury or
tenderness after the procedure,” says Ciancio.
Ciancio’s research team studied 45 adults with a mean age
of 39 requiring the filling of one upper tooth. Some patients
were given an intra-oral lidocaine-epinepherine (anesthetic)
injection with buffered nasal spray bilaterally, and some were
given an active anesthetic nasal spray with “sham”
“We constantly monitored our patients for pain and were
prepared to give ‘rescue’ anesthesia to the patients
with the ‘sham’ injection who needed it,” says
It turned out that 25 of 30 patients – or 83.3 percent
– required no rescue anesthesia.
Ciancio says the results indicate that the nasal spray provided
sufficient anesthesia for the performance of restorative dental
procedures in most patients, and that it meets the FDA standard for
being better than a placebo.
A separate study involving children is nearing completion, says
Ciancio, and a wide age range of adults have been included in Phase
3 studies, which may provide valuable age-related information.