Researchers at the University of Buffalo hope to make your trips to the neighborhood dentist a little less nerve-racking. I mean, anyone can dole out prescription-strength narcotics, but dentists hope to use nasal sprays and ozone to reach a new level of comfort.
Imagine having a decayed tooth repaired, painlessly, without drilling or shots of anesthesia to numb the area. Wishful thinking? Not if two studies being conducted at the University at Buffalo’s School of Dental Medicine show positive results. In one study, funded by a $100,000 grant by Apollonia, LLC, researchers in the school’s Center for Dental Studies are testing a nasal spray that numbs the upper teeth.
“If this study is successful,” said Sebastian Ciancio, D.D.S., principal investigator on the study, “it may mean the end of dental injections when dentists are performing procedures on the upper arch.”
The second study, set to begin in coming months, will test the use of ozone to kill bacteria in a decayed tooth and its potential to eliminate the need for the dreaded drill, at least to repair simple cavities. Researchers at UB and two other U.S. dental schools will conduct the research, which is funded by a $1.5 million grant from Curozone, Inc. and Kavo Dental Manufacturing Co. UB’s portion is $400,000.
Ciancio, who also is the UB principal investigator on this study, said the ozone delivery device currently is being used in Europe. “If the U.S. studies are successful, it should be available in this country in about two years,” he said.
The nasal spray study is testing the effectiveness in dental procedures of a topical anesthetic normally used by ear, nose and throat physicians when they operate on the nose. Patients who received this anesthetic for that purpose reported it also numbed their upper teeth, sparking interest in using it for dental procedures.
“We currently are testing to determine what the optimal dose is for this spray when used as an anesthetic agent for the maxillary (upper) teeth,” said Ciancio. “The current study includes 85 patients and should be completed by the end of January and will be followed by a second study in March. Once we know the results, we’ll then test it in a broader population.”
The ozone study will evaluate the effectiveness of the ozone delivery device, which fits over a tooth and forms an airtight seal, in arresting tooth decay. The study will enroll 125 participants and will last 18 months.
“Following application of the ozone, patients will use a remineralizing solution, which strengthens the weakened tooth structure and, in many cases, eliminates the need for any dental drilling,” said Ciancio.