What is it?
The Wand is essentially a computer-controlled dental injection. The flow rate of the local anaesthetic is controlled by a computer. This means that the injection is guaranteed to be slow and steady and therefore comfortable.
Even though Milestone Scientific – the manufacturers of the Wand – now call their products CompuDent and STA (Single Tooth Anesthesia) System, we’ll still call it the Wand here – because a lot of people with needle phobia describe it as their “Magic Wand”!
Most people who have had a bad experience with injections think that needles sting because the skin is pierced, but this is usually not so! Most often, the sting was caused because the anesthetic was fired in too quickly. Obviously, it is possible for the dentist to control the speed with a standard syringe, but the idea of the Wand is to take out the “human error”. This can be very reassuring for people with previous bad experiences.
What are the advantages?
- Looks non-threatening and almost cute. Researchers have found that the Wand induces less anxiety than any other injection method (Kudo et al, 2001).
- The precise control of flow rate and pressure reliably produces a comfortable injection even in potentially more “difficult” areas like the palate, where the tissue is less elastic.
- Many dentists enjoy the light weight and easy handling. The penlike grasp allows the operator to rotate the handpiece, which can make it easier to glide the needle into the tissue.
- Two “fancy” injection techniques (the AMSA and P-ASA, for the nerds among you) are much more comfortable and effective when the Wand is used.
What are the disadvantages?
So why do so few dentists use the Wand if it’s that cool?
- Cost! It’s more expensive than using traditional syringes, both for the machine and the disposables. And if you wanted to rely on the Wand alone, you’d have to have a backup Wand in case one breaks down sometime, which means more cost. Because the cartridge holder, tube and handpiece are disposables, there’s a larger volume of hazardous waste (and higher costs for getting rid of the extra waste).
- Some dentists complain they lose time because it takes longer than their “standard” injection.
- Takes time (and guinea pigs – usually staff or other dentists) to learn.
- Takes up extra space. This can be a problem in some rooms, depending on space and layout.
- A lot of dentists are happy with their painless injection techniques and don’t see the need for it.