No matter how bad the toothache, the idea of visiting the dentist and getting an injection of novocaine is enough to send some patients running for the hills.
According to worlddental.org, 50 percent of Americans actively avoid dental care due anxiety about pain -- most often the pain of anesthetic injections.
But a San Ramon based dentist and instructor aims to quell patient fears with a new pain management technique that is making waves throughout the dental community. Dr. Foroud Hakim will appear on the daytime medical television show "The Doctors" in April to demonstrate the dental vibe, a vibration device used to ease pain during injections.
"(The dental vibe) delivers a high frequency vibration and you put it on the injection site," Hakim said. "When certain nerves are stimulated with a vibration impulse, those nerves work a little faster going to the brain and scramble the pain receptors."
Because the injection is given while the mouth is being stimulated, the patient is less likely to feel the prick or pain associated with needles.
Before the dental vibe, invented by Dr. Steven Goldberg, dentists would attempt to distract patients by shaking their lip. The new technology acts as a great distraction and even has a bit of a placebo effect, Hakim noted.
"It basically attacks (pain) from all different angles. It addresses such a small part of dental procedure, the shot, but also addresses a big issue: the subconscious fear of needles. People equate that to a fear of dentists and then don't come in," he said.
Dr. Goldberg contacted the practitioner through University of the Pacific's dental school, where Hakim is vice chair of integrated reconstructive dental sciences, and asked him to demonstrate the dental vibe on the hour-long health program. Because Goldberg is not licensed to practice in California, Hakim will travel to Los Angeles with a patient some time next month to prepare and tape the show.
In a five to 10 minute segment, Hakim will give an injection to a current patient who used to experience anxiety. The panel of four doctors will then interview Hakim and the patient on the experience.
"If a lot of people see 'The Doctors' show, then can go to their dentist and say they want to try this," Hakim said. "It's kind of a win-win. It helps us give shots so we're not the bad guys…but most important, it helps us in delivering care more comfortably. I don't see any downside, no side effects, it's just helpful."
Although Hakim estimates that he has used the dental vibe regularly for about a year on over 300 patients, the technology is fairly new. By going on "The Doctors," Hakim hopes to increase awareness among dentists, who may be impressed by the level of pain management and relatively inexpensive price, compared to other dental technology.