Clinical evaluation and comparison of 2 topical anesthetics for pain caused by needle sticks and scaling and root planing

M P Carr, J E Horton
Journal of Periodontology 2001, 72 (4): 479-84

BACKGROUND: Pain generated by needle sticks (Ns) for the delivery of local anesthetic and/or scaling and root planing (SRP) instrumentation is commonly addressed by the use of topical anesthetics, such as a benzocaine-gel preparation (BGP). Pain suppression following such use has been highly variable. Development of medicine-containing patches and adhesives for intraoral use have led to a new approach for topical anesthesia in the form of a transoral lidocaine delivery system (LDS). The purpose of this double-blind study was to evaluate the efficacy of the LDS and also to compare LDS with BGP for pain suppression to Ns and SRP.

METHODS: One group of 20 subjects randomly received in both maxillary and mandibular molar-bicuspid areas LDS or BGP on one side and non-anesthetic control on the other side. A second group of 20 subjects compared the effectiveness of LDS directly with BGP in molar-bicuspid areas of both arches. Random order determined the selection for each anesthetic tested between the arches and bilateral. Pain perception was separately scored to a pain-inducing Ns simulation without anesthetic injection at each area and subsequently also to SRP using both a verbal pain scale (VPS) and a visual analog scale (VAS).

RESULTS: VPS and VAS results analyzed by Bonferroni-adjusted Wilcoxon matched-pairs signed-rank tests found pain suppression scores significantly (P < 0.005) reduced for Ns by LDS to controls and to BGP. Comparing LDS directly with BGP, LDS was significantly (P < 0.05) more effective in reducing pain to Ns in both arches, to SRP in the maxillary arch, and equally effective as BGP in the mandibular arch.

CONCLUSIONS: LDS is more effective than BGP for topical pain suppression to Ns and SRP in both arches.

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