A placebo-controlled trial to evaluate an anesthetic gel when probing in patients with advanced periodontitis

Lewis Winning, Ioannis Polyzois, Karin Nylund, Alan Kelly, Noel Claffey
Journal of Periodontology 2012, 83 (12): 1492-8

BACKGROUND: The baseline periodontal examination is reported to be a painful dental procedure, but currently there are limited practical techniques to reduce this pain. The objective of this study is to evaluate the efficacy of an intrapocket anesthetic gel in the reduction of pain on periodontal probing in a group of untreated patients with generalized chronic periodontitis (CP).

METHODS: This study is a randomized, double-masked, split-mouth, placebo-controlled trial. Thirty consecutive patients meeting the inclusion criteria had full-mouth periodontal probing performed in a split-mouth (right side/left side) manner. Before probing, both quadrants on each side were isolated and had a randomized gel (either placebo or test gel) placed in the periodontal pockets for 30 seconds. Pain was measured using two ungraded 100-mm horizontal visual analog scales (VAS) representing right and left sides of the mouth.

RESULTS: The mean ± SD VAS for the test gel was 23.5 ± 16.8 mm, and the mean ± SD VAS for the placebo gel was 23.5 ± 14.6 mm. The mean ± SD difference in VAS was 51.6 ± 28.11 mm in favor of the anesthetic gel, and only age was found to be a marginally significant predictor.

CONCLUSIONS: The VAS pain scores showed favorable anesthetic efficacy of the test gel compared to a placebo gel in reducing patients' pain on periodontal probing in a group of patients with generalized CP. It suggests that the gel may be used for patients who find the full-mouth periodontal probing experience particularly painful in view of other tested alternatives.

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