A revolutionary new nasal spray at the dentist could signal the end of the “dreaded” needle.

Scientists at the University at Buffalo have pioneered the spray to replace the need for needles, a move that could encourage 15 million people in the UK with dental anxiety1 to visit the dentist.

The nasal spray, called Kovacaine Mist2, appeared to be just as, if not more effective than a standard anaesthetic, with more than four in five patients (83 per cent) requiring no further anaesthetic. Founder Dr Mark Kollar, DDS, noted the spray provided anaesthesia of the teeth ‘sufficient for the performance of restorative dental procedures’, giving hope to millions of nervous patients.

Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter OBE, welcomed the innovation.

Dr Carter said: “Patients anxious of the dentist are, in theory, likely to have poorer oral health than those who get regular check-ups. This nasal spray could be a very promising addition to any dental practice.

“If you haven't seen a dentist for years through fear or anxiety, be reassured that you should find the experience dramatically more bearable nowadays. Most people who are scared of the dentist have bad memories from childhood of the smells and sounds of the surgery. Modern dental surgeries are much friendlier environments with flowers in the waiting room, art on the walls, a pleasant reception area and polite staff. It's altogether a gentler experience.”

The spray could be good news for adults with attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD), after a study in the Journal of Oral Sciences3 showed a higher prevalence of the condition in dentally anxious patients.

The same group of patients also had lower levels of self-reported oral health, a trend also witnessed in children with ADHD.

Dr Carter added: “Adults and children with ADHD have more specific needs when it comes to treatment. Needles may present a significant barrier to them receiving treatment, so the successful piloting of the spray may really help to improve this particular group’s oral health.

Nasal Spray by robin_24

Nasal Spray by robin_24

Regular visits to the dentist are incredibly important. Regular check-ups can identify early signs of gum disease. The cost of not doing so has health implications, not to mention more extensive cost implications.”

The results of the company's successful phase II clinical trials were published in May’s Journal of Dental Research. Forty-five adult participants needing restorations participated in the single-centre, randomised, double-blind, active-control, parallel-group study. Of the 45 patients, 30 were selected at random to receive the nasal spray, and the remaining 15 received the lidocaine injection. 83.3 per cent given the nasal spray required no further anaesthetic.

Image By robin_24 [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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