It’s incredible how many patients are afraid of needles. Fear of needles and pain has to be one of the biggest reasons that adults do not seek necessary dental care. Patients tell me every day they hate dentists and they hate needles! I don’t take it personally, but I do pay attention. This fear is an obstacle we face as dentists to helping our patients get the care they need.
If I can make the experience of getting an injection for a patient the best they’ve ever had, I’m really happy. I take a lot of pride in making sure the patient has a pain free injection. The best compliment is always when a patient says, “did you do the needle yet?” right after I’ve finished. I love that!
I’ve got a few secrets and tips that I’ll share with you. Don’t try this at home, folks!
- The first thing is to get a patient as relaxed as possible, which isn’t always easy. We’ve got movies and TV shows for patients to watch, and that really helps. We also have nitrous oxide/laughing gas. Once the patient is as relaxed as possible, it’s time to get started.
- I’m pretty decent at hiding the needle. Who wants to see it anyway? Sometimes just seeing a needle gets the blood pressure going, so I do everything possible to make it so a patient never sees it.
- With high powered magnification and an LED light that I wear, it’s very easy to place only the very tip of the needle into the tissue without triggering any pain receptors. This is a very critical component to a painless injection.
- Slow, slow, slow. The slower the anesthetic goes into the tissue, the less chance for discomfort.
- Topical anesthetic. Honestly, I’m not the biggest fan, but I will use it in some instances or if a patient requests it. I’ve found that just being slow and careful is the key, not extra bells and whistles or fancy gadgets. I think most of my patients would agree.
I attribute a lot of my skill with the administration of anesthetics to two years of my career where I treated children almost exclusively. If you make a child uncomfortable, they let you know pretty quickly so you better be really good! If not, nothing is going to be accomplished in the visit and no one is happy. Even if it’s a big tough guy sitting in the chair, I put the same care and attention into the procedure that I would for a three year old little girl (ironically, three year old little girls are usually way tougher than big tough guys, but that’s another story!). When that part of the procedure goes well, patients are always happy and relieved.