A Wave of Relief
Imagine yourself undergoing a dental cleaning or tooth filling in a pain-free, needle-free environment. H-Wave® electronic anesthesia can make this vision a reality. The H-Wave device sends electrical impulses that block pain signals in the brain through electrodes placed near the site of the dental procedure. The result is an anesthetic effect, minus the numb lip normally associated with local anesthesia like lidocaine.
If the prospect of static electricity alone is shocking to you, don’t panic! The H-Wave technology relies on low-voltage currents to deliver dental pain control. That means that the pulse the H-Wave produces isn’t painful; it’s more like a slight tingling or twitching sensation. This type of dental anesthesia is most often used to ease dental anxiety for simple dental procedures such as dental caries and cavities.
Consider the Advantages
Electronic anesthesia has several advantages over traditional, needle-centric options, including:
- No shot
- Quick, numb-free recovery period
- Control over the level of anesthesia administered
- Less risk of allergies (although some people may have an adverse reaction to the electrodes)
A Not-So-Shocking Experience
When you think of electronic anesthesia, you might envision a pretty scary image. But rest easy — H-Wave doesn’t deliver shocks at random intervals. In reality, H-Wave users can control the amount of anesthesia directly. (Some people choose to have their dentist take control instead.) Small electrodes are placed near the site of the dental procedure and patients are given a control box to choose the level of anesthesia delivered. It takes just a few minutes for the anesthetic effect to kick in. Once it does, the dentist can begin the required dental procedure, while you can relax and rest easy.
The H-Wave device isn’t the only form of electronic anesthesia used in dentists’ offices. There are others, including the Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation system, or TENS. But the H-Wave technology is unique, relying on a different waveform than others. It is thought that this approach doesn’t simply mask pain but creates a lasting anesthetic effect.
Knowing Your Limits
The H-Wave is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use as an electronic anesthesia with dental fillings and dental crowns. Some patients feel discomfort for more complex procedures such as a dental crown. The H-Wave also seems to be less effective with patients who are, in general, apprehensive about receiving dental care.
H-Wave is generally considered to be a safe alternative to traditional dental anesthesia. But electronic anesthesia such as H-Wave might pose a risk to certain people. People with heart problems, epilepsy and those who wear a pacemaker or other implanted electrical device should not use H-Wave. The long-term effect of electronic anesthesia on developing fetuses is unknown, so it isn’t for use on pregnant women.
Some dentists may offer patients use of the H-Wave device as one part of an approach to dental anesthesia. For example, the H-Wave device can be used as a topical anesthetic instead of a numbing agent before more complex dental treatment.