Every prospective dental student has their reasons for why they want to become a dentist. I came to the field like many others, taken by the opportunity to help patients day-to-day by relieving their dental pain and addressing their aesthetic concerns through clinical and artistic skills.
Fear of injection is a significant factor for those who avoid dental treatment. Emotion is a major component in how we perceive pain. Particularly of interest to dental professionals are the emotions associated with local anesthesia injections. In anatomy, we learn the limbic system, prefrontal cortex and anterior cingulate gyrus control emotion. A 1991 study in the Journal of Neuropsychiatry, Neuropsychology and Behavior Neurology, found cancer patients with these areas of the brain removed perceived pain differently.
As dental students we have done it hundreds of times already: local anesthesia. It’s may be the only procedure we have 100% confidence in completing. It’s like July 4th fireworks going off in dental brains because the patient’s “lip feels huge” and it is time to start the procedure. Yet, on a rare occasion, when we go through the normal routine with the appropriate dosage of anesthesia, they still have sensation. What gives?