Background: Many dental patients are fearful about receiving intraoral injections of local anesthetic. In fact, many patients cite injections as their primary reason for avoiding dental treatment. In late 1997, however, a computerized local anesthetic delivery system was introduced to address the problems of pain and anxiety associated with these injections. The author initiated a year-long assessment study in which patients evaluated and rated injections administered with the computerized device as compared with previously administered standard injections.
Methods: One hundred and fifty randomly selected patients received local anesthesia delivered via the computer-controlled anesthetic delivery system. All patients had at some time received standard injections during treatment at the practice. Different types of injections were administered to all quadrants, enabling the researcher to qualify results according to injection type and location. Patient responses were recorded and evaluated to assess the levels of anxiety and pain associated with the computer-driven system.
Results: Overall, 71.4% of patients reported the experience to be superlative, positive, or somewhat positive. Results indicated that the system was highly preferred to traditional injection techniques, regardless of the arch and quadrant receiving the injection. Several factors may have contributed to this preference, including increased patient comfort, the nonthreatening appearance of the instrument, and the lack of residual facial numbness commonly associated with oral anesthetic injections.
Clinical significance: By removing the discomfort associated with the dental injection, which is a common source of patient anxiety, use of the computer-controlled anesthetic delivery system may encourage patient acceptance of recommended periodontal treatment modalities.