How many times have you thought, “If they can put a man on the moon, why can’t they make the novacaine shot more comfortable?!” Well, for the record, dentists stopped using “Novacaine” years ago- we mostly use Lidocaine, Carbocaine or Articaine. But that’s beside the point for most patients- who really don’t like the thought of “the needle”. It conjures up really bad images of pain, fear , and maybe even Steve Martin in “Little Shop of Horrors”. But, in truth, the needles that we use in this day and age are so small that you barely feel the soft pinch of it. No, believe it or not, in most cases, what you feel is the burning of the anesthetic liquid as it is injected close to the nerve that eventually numbs the area. And the burning can mostly be attributed to the acidic nature of the liquid- acidic in order to lengthen its shelf life.
Without mimicking Bill Nye the Science guy, the body’s PH is a relatively neutral 7.4 (on a 0-14 scale). The body at this neutral PH doesn’t like it if you introduce an acidic liquid into it and thus you feel the burn. But if we could make the anesthetic solution closer in PH to the body’s, then the injection would be virtually painless and, as an added bonus, the numb feeling would be immediate (as opposed to waiting the obligatory 10-15 minutes for numbing onset).
Well the future is now – a new product is making its way onto the market that infuses baking soda into the lidocaine in order to neutralize its PH. Our office is one of the first in the country to utilize this exciting technology and the results have been amazing. Patients report that the injection experience is as close to comfortable as they have ever experienced and the immediate onset of numbness helps create a speedier more efficient appointment- and in these impossibly over scheduled times, who couldn’t use an extra 15 minutes in their day!
So next time you come in for some dental treatment, you can rest assured that you will be taken care of in every way, including a painless “Novacaine” experience. Don’t you just love “the future”?