How Long Does a TENS Treatment Last in Dentistry?

TENS therapy has been proven to be successful, with a success rate of 50% or more. Thorsen and Lumsden (2) reported an interesting case of trigeminal neuralgia in a 36-year-old man, who experienced immediate and prolonged relief from symptoms when an intense TENS discharge occurred accidentally. Studies have also shown that the application of TENS increases the rate of salivary flow in both healthy individuals and those with xerostomia. In addition, TENS has been used in combination with nitrous oxide and oxygen or diazepam to achieve analgesia during dental treatment. After extensive research, TENS, also known as electronic dental anesthesia in dentistry, has become an accepted anesthetic agent.

William Stenberg (2) reported in 1994 on the use of TENS to control pain during cavity preparation in a 24-year-old patient susceptible to malignant hyperthermia and obtained favorable results. In conclusion, although TENS cannot replace local anesthesia, it can be used to relieve pain during several dental procedures. In physiological dentistry, a special TENS unit with a very specific wavelength is applied to the muscles of the head and neck to help certain muscles that are usually stressed due to an incorrect bite position reach a point of true physiological rest. In conventional TENS, 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 referred to as pulsed TENS or bursts. The use of TENS requires patient cooperation, so it should not be attempted on patients with communication problems or mental disabilities. Studies have shown that TENS can be a useful adjunct in pediatric patients during several minor dental procedures.

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. The TENS device works by stimulating sensory nerves and a small portion of peripheral motor nerves; this stimulation triggers multiple mechanisms that control the sensation of pain in a patient. The use of TENS has positive effects on the behavior of pediatric patients, reducing anxiety levels by eliminating the “fear of the needle”. Some studies have even provided objective evidence that TENS can modulate or suppress pain signals in the brain. Harvey and Elliott (1) discovered in 1995 that TENS is effective in reducing pain during tooth decay preparation in pediatric patients.

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