Iontophoresis means no more needles, no more tears

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iontophoresisA new study could see dentists switching needles for spark plugs. Published in Colloids and Surfaces B: Biointerfaces the research has found that dentists will be able to administer anaesthetic using an a small electric current rather than a needle.

Abandonment of needles in dental anaesthetic practices could both draw in those patients who currently fear injections, and reduce the risk of disease.

One of the study’s authors, Professor Renata Fonseca Vianna Lopez from the University of São Paulo in Brazil, was optimistic about the benefits of their new discovery.

“Needle-free administration could save costs, improve patient compliance, facilitate application and decrease the risks of intoxication and contamination,” she said. “This may facilitate access to more effective and safer dental treatments for thousands of people around the world.”

The researchers focused their study on new modes of delivering anaesthetic, seeking to make needles obsolete altogether. Their new method of transfer—called iontophoresis—which uses a miniscule current of electricity, increases the effectiveness of an anaesthetic hydrogel. The hydrogel is first mixed a polymer allowing it to stick to the mouth’s lining before the current is applied.

The team’s experiments showed their electrical method was both fast-acting and long-lasting, with the anaesthetic permeating 12 times more effectively than traditional methods.

Dr Lopez and her team members are hopeful that the technology will impact other areas of anaesthesia outside of the dental sphere, including cancer treatment.

“Over the last few years, our research group has been working on the development of novel drug-delivery systems for the treatment of several skin and eye diseases,” she said. “The skin and eyes pose challenges for drug delivery, so we have focused on improving drug delivery in these organs using nanotechnology, iontophoresis and sonophoresis, which is permeation using sound waves.”

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