Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) therapy is a popular method of treating pain. It involves the use of low-voltage electrical currents to block or change the perception of pain. This therapy is used in a variety of medical settings, including dentistry. At the start of a TENS treatment, muscle activity and facial muscle tension are measured with Myotronics electromyography equipment.
After collecting the basic levels of muscle activity, a TENS unit is used to relax the jaw muscles and reduce pain. This process helps to free them from the increase in lactic acid and other byproducts that are causing discomfort. In a double-blind study, 20 patients who needed class 1 amalgam restorations on their first permanent mandibular molars were treated with TENS and 10 patients were not. The delivery of impulses is usually continuous, but the same effect can also be achieved by emitting the pulses in “bursts” or “trains”, which some authors have called pulsed TENS or in bursts.
An alternative explanation of the mechanism of action of TENS is that it stimulates the release of endogenous opioids in the spinal cord, which could result from the activation of local circuits within the spinal cord or from the activation of descending pain-inhibiting pathways. This review aims to provide information on the available clinical research evidence on the analgesic and non-analgesic uses of TENS in pediatric and adult patients related to dentistry. A conventional TENS device, intended for use by a medical professional in a clinical setting, typically produces low intensity pulsed currents with a high frequency. Baghdadi (1) in 1999 conducted a study on 28 children to determine the effectiveness of TENS compared to local anesthesia for restorative procedures.
In addition to its analgesic effect, TENS can also be used to produce non-analgesic physiological effects and has been found to be beneficial in the treatment of xerostomia. In pediatric patients, TENS has been used effectively to control pain during various procedures, such as the placement of pit and fissure sealants, cavity preparation, minor extractions and endodontic procedures. TENS therapy is an effective way to treat dental pain and discomfort. It can help reduce lactic acid buildup and stimulate the release of endogenous opioids in the spinal cord.
It has also been found to be beneficial in treating xerostomia. While it may not be successful for all patients, it is worth considering as an option for those who are looking for relief from dental pain.