Researchers may have found a way to make common anesthetics more effective using a natural sugar alcohol, according to an article in Medical News Today.
How Mannitol Can Help You Go Numb
Dentists typically use a certain type of local anesthetic for the lower teeth called an inferior alveolar nerve (IAN) block, but this injection actually fails to block the nerve a relatively high percentage of the time. Scientists found that the sugar alcohol, mannitol, may help the body absorb IAN block injections more effectively. The effects of mannitol don’t last long, but during that time it can help the nerves absorb more anesthetic and thus more effectively numb the area.
IAN Block Study
The Winter 2011 issue of Anesthesia Progress, a publication of the American Dental Society of Anesthesiology, talks about a study involving 40 adults where each person received an IAN block during three separate appointments at least a week apart. One was standard anesthetic (epinephrine and lidocaine). The other two contained different volumes of epinephrine and lidocaine with mannitol.
The Medical News Today article concludes:
After injections of the IAN block solutions, subjects’ pain levels were measured by an electric pulp test of their mandibular teeth at 4-minute intervals for 60 minutes. The study concluded that the addition of mannitol to lidocaine with epinephrine significantly increased the effectiveness of the anesthesia.
This could be great news for wary dental patients and especially redheads, who are more difficult to anesthetize according to urban legend, though recent studies have shown that dental work might actually be more painful for redheads. On the financial spectrum, most dental plans include local anesthetic, but the mannitol addition is still in testing so it’s not yet on the market for general practice.
If you’re wary about visiting the dentist, check out these informational articles:
- New Device Drowns Out Dental Drill
- 5 Steps to Overcoming Fear of Dentists and Dental Offices
- Top Dental Fears – What Can I Expect at the Dentist?
Have you ever had difficulty getting numb at the dental office?