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If you avoid the dentist because of the pain you feel even with anesthetic injections, now there is a new way to help lessen your agony by using sugar alcohol.

Up to 40 percent of the time anesthesia during painful dental procedures fails to numb. But when it is mixed with mannitol, the effects are much better. Mannitol opens the membrane that shelters nerve fibers under the tooth and lets the anesthesia come in.

Mannitol is very similar to sorbitol. It is a safe, natural chemical, which is found in fruits and vegetables and passes through the body rapidly, according to LiveScience. In a study, it helped lessen the pain of 40 subjects who needed three dental appointments to repair their teeth.

Most dental work anesthetic injections have lidocaine and epinephrine. Lidocaine eases the pain, and epinephrine slows the absorption of the lidocaine into the bloodstream so it will lessen the pain longer.

During the study some patients were given the standard mix of lidocaine-epinephrine, some were given the standard plus mannitol, and then the rest were given a higher volume of lidocaine-epinephrine with mannitol.

The mannitol mix helped lower the pain in the patients, and the mixture with the higher amount of lidocaine-epinephrine plus mannitol worked the best.

This is one option to avoid painful visits, but there is also sedation dentistry. If you have dental anxiety because of past experiences, contact the Lakeway Center for Cosmetic and Family Dentistry to learn more about sedation dentistry and how it can help you feel like you slept through your dentist appointment.