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  1. Professor Al Reader will receive the Louis I. Grossman Award from the American Association of Endodontics  in May (2009).

    Articles include "Taking the Pain Out of Restorative Dentistry and Endodontics," (left) and "The Efficacy of a Repeated Infiltration in Prolonging Duration Anesthesia in Maxillary Lateral Incisors."

“Feeling No Pain:” Researchers Find New Ways to Stop the Pain of Dental Procedures

March, 2009

When most people go to the dentist, they're usually prepared for some pain after they've had common dental procedures, such as fillings, tooth extractions and root canals. But it's often the pain they experience during the treatment that puts them off another trip to the dentist --and it’s this pain that Dr. Al Reader says is unnecessary.

A professor in the College of Dentistry and the Director of the Advanced Endodontic Program, Reader has spent decades on research in pain prevention and pain management. In May of this year, he will receive the American Association of Endodontics’ Louis I. Grossman Award, which recognizes authors whose research publications have made an “extraordinary” contribution to the field of endodontics.

After more than 28 years as a specialist in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases related to the dental pulp, Reader has performed countless root canals throughout his career, and he knows how painful they can be -- if the proper pain prevention treatments haven’t been used before the procedure begins.

“I’ve spent most of my professional career working with other researchers in dentistry to find ways of preventing pain during these procedures,” Reader says. “There are several of us whose clinical research shows new ways of managing pain, but these advances are still a best kept secret for most dental practitioners.”

Reader's many publications on pain prevention and pain management include a recent article in the American Association of Endodontics (AAE) publication titled, “Taking the Pain out of Restorative Dentistry and Endodontics: Current Thoughts and Treatment Options to Help Patients Achieve Profound Anesthesia.” Serving two important purposes for the dental practitioner, the article lists 13 common misconceptions related to local anesthesia, and it includes proven methods of achieving profound pulpal anesthesia (numbness) that ensure pain-free procedures for dental and endodontic patients.

These new pain prevention methods that Reader and his OSU colleagues have discovered are well documented in other prestigious publications, including the Journal of Endodontics, Anesthesia Progress, and the Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA). Two recent JADA publications by Dr. Reader and his colleagues, Professors Nusstein, Drum, and Beck, provide dental practitioners with new insights into the uses of lidocaine and articaine formulations when a standard alveolar nerve block (or lower jaw block) fails.

When asked why so many people experience pain during dental procedures despite having received local anesthetic injections, Reader replied, “Most dentists are trained to believe that the local anesthetic injections that numb a patient’s lips will also numb the pulp of the tooth being worked on, but that simply isn’t true. Achieving pulpal anesthesia, which means numbing the pulp of the tooth so the patient feels no pain during a procedure like a root canal, requires more than the usual alveolar nerve block that most dentists use – but this isn’t common knowledge."

Reader added, “My colleagues and I have studied dental pain prevention and management for a couple of decades, and I guess you could say we’ve learned a new thing or two over the years.”


To find out more, click on the articles below:

Jean Scott, Melissa Drum, Al Reader, John Nusstein and Mike Beck; The Efficacy of a Repeated Infiltration in Prolonging Duration Anesthesia in Maxillary Lateral Incisors; Journal of the American Dental Association, 2009.

Andrew Haase, Al Reader, John Nusstein, Mike Beck, and Melissa Drum; Comparing Anesthetic Efficacy of Articaine Versus Lidocaine as a Supplemental Buccal Infiltration of the Mandibular First Molar After an Inferior Alveloar Nerve Block; Journal of the American Dental Association, 2008.

Rachel Matthews, Melissa Drum, Al Reader, John Nusstein, and Mike Beck; Articaine for Supplemental Buccal Mandibular Infiltration in Patients with Irreversible Pulpitis When the Inferior Alveolar Nerve Block Fails; Journal of Endodontics, 2009.