All is well with gel

Feb. 1, 2010
Do you prefer paste or gel? Undoubtedly, lively conversations occur chairside when educating patients and listening to their home–care preferences and routines.

by Karen Kaiser, RDH
[email protected]

Do you prefer paste or gel? Undoubtedly, lively conversations occur chairside when educating patients and listening to their home–care preferences and routines. Recently, a patient admitted she only uses products that are available in a gel form. For this patient, firmer–type pastes do not appeal to her palate. She doesn't like the feel and consistency of pastes over the more viscous gel products.

Upon delving further, this patient delivered quite a dissertation regarding the makeup of gels. As a refresher, gels are mostly liquid, but they act like a solid. The cross–linked structure of gels gives them properties of being variously weak and strong, or even sticky. I thanked my patient for the chemistry review and thought further about some of the gels used in the hygiene scene.

Often, patients will inform the hygienist about an area of tenderness that they would like the hygienist to treat gently. Perhaps the patient has overflossed or overzealously brushed the area, knowing the cleaning appointment was fast approaching, or maybe food has traumatized tissues and the patient is concerned about being uncomfortable.

There are several gels that can offer comfort to tissues during care by numbing them to alleviate pain. Septodont offers a new topical gel, Pro Jel 20 (20% benzocaine). This product can be used topically at chairside and comes in a tube that can be dispensed to the patient for at–home needs. The Pro Jel 20 formulation is available in bubble gum, pina colada, cherry, and mint flavors (dye–free), which avoids after–application bitterness.

Improving patient comfort and lessening treatment angst are goals for noninjectable anesthetics. Dentsply Professional offers lidocaine and prilocaine gel 2.5% in FDA–approved Oraqix. This quick–acting topical will flow as a liquid and then turn into a gel with the warmth of body temperature, working well subgingivally in periodontal pockets. Dispensed from an autoclavable click–type dispenser, the system is not injected but delivered via carpule from a blunt canula to the tissue site.

Patients have a tough time “chilling” in the dental chair when their teeth are hypersensitive to cold on recessed or abraded areas. Chairside relief may include a professional application of fluoride and a take–home therapy. Preventech offers two formulas of fluoride (1.23% APF and 2.0% NSF) for in–office tray treatment. Pediagel fluoride gel dispenses through an effortless ergonomic cap and a clear, see–through bottle, allowing the clinician to view the amount of remaining product. Plus, the patient can choose from six tasty flavors, including super strawberry, apple–cinnamon, and goofy grape.

Prescription–strength fluoride therapies continue the desensitizing process at home. Consider Colgate's PreviDent line, which has a liquid gel formula for sensitive teeth with added 5% potassium nitrate along with the fluoride at 5,000 ppm. The gel is a mild mint, low abrasive, and supplied in a stand–up bottle.

When sensitivity relief for pre– or postwhitening is desired, look to SDI Companies' gel product, Soothe. Soothe also has potassium nitrate at 6% and fluoride in a syringe, which works well with a custom–fitting tray. The formula offers desensitizing relief when used during the whitening process and does not interfere with whitening results.

Apprehensive patients who fear needle injections benefit from using needle–free options for pain management during dental treatments. When performing nonsurgical scaling procedures, topical preparations have quick onset times and offer temporary comfort when necessary. Continued relief is given when fluoride preparations for in–office and at–home use are prescribed.

When recommended products gel with the patients' sensitive needs, treatment success is assured.

The author did not receive compensation for products mentioned.

About the Author

Karen Kaiser, RDH, graduated from St. Louis' Forest Park dental hygiene program in 1994 and currently practices at the Center for Contemporary Dentistry in Columbia, Ill. She has written several articles for RDH and other publications, sits on dental hygiene panels, and is an evaluator for Clinical Research Associates. She can be contacted at [email protected].