Sound too good to be true? It possibly is, but it’s something in the works.
According to Medical News Today, scientists have found evidence that common local anesthetics can reach the main nerves in the face and affect the teeth, jaw, and mouth when administered through a nose spray. If this is successful, it could further eliminate painful procedures commonly found in the dental office, and further reduce the amount of patient anxiety when it comes to dental visits.
In addition, this could lead toward a new line of nose sprays to treat toothaches, migraines, and other pains in the head and face.
William H. Frey II, Ph.D. – head of the study – and his colleagues have noted that drugs administered to the nasal cavity travel along nerves and head directly to the brain. One of these facial nerves is the trigeminal nerve, which is responsible for the face, nose and mouth. Before this study, scientists have never thought to check if drugs traveling this nerve could reach the teeth and gums and possibly reduce the feeling of pain. This thought was confirmed by Neil Johnson with a laboratory rat study. He found that the drugs collected 20 times higher in the teeth, jaws, and mouth than in the blood or even the brain. Once the treatment is perfected, it could be a far more effective method for dental pain treatment, trigeminal neuralgia (facial pain), and migraines.
Most importantly, though, the team discovered a better location to administer dental anesthesia: the maxillary sinus. This sinus is a large space (about the size of a golf ball) located under the cheeks where the drug can be sprayed. If scientists can find a way to use a nasal spray to reach this area, they could provide a more rapid and targeted application of dental anesthesia.
It pretty much goes without saying that if given the choice, patients would prefer a nasal spray anesthetic over the traditional anesthesia injection in the mouth. As dental technology and medical studies advance, this will hopefully become a reality in the near future and help make patients far more comfortable in the dentist’s chair.