New Anaesthetic Gel Could Help Nervous Patients

Published:March 15th, 2012

© Leonardini

A new anaesthetic gel has been discovered, and it could help those patients who are nervous, or who have phobias about having injections at the dentists. It’s made from a plant found in the Peruvian  rainforest called Acmella oleracea, and was originally used by the Incas to treat abscesses, and toothache, and to clean their teeth.

A Cambridge researcher discovered the plant after living with the Keshwa Lamas tribe in the Amazon rainforest on and off for the last 30 years, after having been the first Westerner to be accepted into the tribe in 1975. According to Dr Françoise Barbira Freedman, the plant works by blocking nerve endings, and can numb an area for more than an hour. Initial tests have shown no apparent side-effects, and feedback from patients has been positive. There are hopes it could come to the market as soon as 2014, and will be a natural alternative to synthetic painkillers.

Acmella oleracea is a yellow flowering herb, and can also be found in south-east Asia as it was originally bought the region by sailors during the 18th and 19th centuries. They simply called it the toothache plant, and for centuries it was known by this name.

The gel made from the plant has also shown promise in other areas of dentistry. It might be able to be used in dental root scaling and planing treatment for gum disease, and could even help to lessen teething pain. Dr Freedman originally discovered it in 1975 when she was having trouble with painful wisdom teeth. One of the tribe members noticed this and bought her some plants to bite into, causing the pain to go away. Although it came back a few hours later, the tribesman was well-prepared and already had the plant material with him to give to Dr Freedman. In spite of this successful introduction to the plant, Dr Freedman initially forgot all about it until she was asked to bring back some medicinal plant samples for research many years later.

Anything that makes visiting the dentists more pleasant has to be welcome news, as most of us find it a bit of an ordeal, even if we’re not phobic about going. Those patients who find it too stressful to go to the dentist often end up putting off vital treatment until it becomes too painful to stand. By this stage a problem which could have been easily remedied earlier on, is likely to have become much more serious, and will need more extensive treatment to put right. It’s estimated up to a third of the population are worried about going to the dentist.

If you are scared of going to the dentist, then try talking to your local dental surgery to explain your feelings, and to ask how they deal with nervous patients. You might be surprised to find out how common this problem is, and how sympathetic dental professionals are towards individuals who really hate coming to see them. There are a number of things your dentist surgery can do to help you feel more comfortable, including offering extra sedation. Sedation dentistry can help you get through vital dental treatment, and although you’ll remain conscious throughout, you’re unlikely to remember much afterwards, which as far as one third of the population is concerned, is absolutely perfect.


About the author

Alison, is a UK born and educated dental professional with over 25 years experience.

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