Apr. 19, 1999 CHICAGO -- Administered in dentistry some 300 million times annually in the United States, local anesthesia appears safer today than in the past, concluded dental researchers in a study that appears in the April 1999 issue of The Journal of the American Dental Association.
"Probably the most common procedure in dentistry is the administration of local anesthetic," explained lead-author Joseph Peter Lustig, D.M.D., clinical instructor, Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Goldshieger School of Dental Medicine, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel.
Lustig said the study was conducted because data that are more recent were needed about the immediate complications of local anesthetic administration. In the study, 2,528 local anesthetic injections were administered to 1,007 consecutive patients, using a standard injection technique. The 474 male and 533 female patients ranged in age from eight years to 99 years old. Patients' age, sex, injection site, number of injections and immediate side effects were recorded.
According to Dr. Lustig, injections were standardized as much as possible, and the administering dentist consistently used the same type of cartridge, syringe and needle. Injection sites were defined, and all injections were administered to the same locations, using standardized injection techniques and regional blocks as often as possible.
In the study, patients did not report any immediate side effects, including needle breakage, burning sensation on injection, swelling or adverse drug reactions, said Dr. Lustig. The researchers found the most severe complication -- syncope or quick loss of consciousness - occurred in one case, without any further complications. In 63 of the more than 2,500 injections, the dentist touched the nerve and the patient reported feeling an electric current sensation without any further complications.
"Our results confirm that local anesthetic injections that are properly carried out appear to be safer today than in the past," said Dr. Lustig.
For more information about anesthesia, go to the ADA's website: http://www.ada.org.
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