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 does the Wand look like?
It simply doesn’t look like a syringe! Welcome to the space age…
As you can see in the photo, the “hardware” looks similar to a miniature computer tower.
On the top of the little tower sits a cartridge with local anaesthetic. A tube connects this to a pen-like handpiece (which does sport a needle. You’ve gotta get the sleepy juice in there somehow, but the needle is very tiny.)
The handpiece device looks just like a ball point pen (see below).
It is even held like a pen! Using the Wand is very enjoyable for the operator (that is, the dentist) because it is so light and easy to handle. To start the computer, the dentist uses a footpedal connected to the computer tower. The computer does the rest. That way, the operator can focus all attention on holding the handpiece in the right position.
The cartridge holder, tube and wand handpiece are all single-use disposables.
A “cool blue” “safety” wand handpiece with a self-retracting needle is also available (shown in the photo featuring the CompuDent tower above). The safety feature is there to prevent dental staff from accidentally poking themselves while getting rid of used handpieces. However, most dentists prefer the “standard” wand on the left, because they find it easier to handle.
The latest version of the Wand, called the STA system, again looks very similar, but they’ve added more colourful buttons to make it look even better (see photo to the right)!
The STA has two modes: the first mode is the traditional wand technique. It now has three speeds so that the delivery can be made faster after the initial slow bit. The second mode is the Single Tooth Anaesthesia (STA) mode which uses a different needle, and has a visual gauge and emits little beeps to let the dentist know when they’ve placed the needle correctly.
It can even speak! For example, it will say “cruise” to let the dentist know when they can use cruise control mode.
In the following video, a dentist explains the wand:
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.
What people on our forum have said about the Wand:
“…a little spray to numb the gums then a few minutes slowly injecting small doses of anaesthetic through the computerised outlet system and I didn’t feel a thing!…My fear of needles is now a thing of the past.” (from “The Magic Wand”)
“when it comes to the actual fear of needles..well one thing i have found that helps the most with that is a numbing machine called ‘the wand’.”
“Not only was it painless, but it worked better than the usual injections. For anyone afraid of needles or injections, I can’t say enough good things about this system.”
“I didn’t even flinch when he did the freezing with The Wand…it was barely noticible! Just like many have indicated here, the Wand is truly something every dentist needs. Sure, some dentists feel its not necessary, but the regular syringes are scary!”
“The wand is truly awesome – it has totally changed my attitude towards visiting the dentists… I was going to have IV sedation but have now decided i’ll be ok with just the wand!”
“It looks like a pen and it’s wicked!”
“Fortunately, I found a dentist who caters to needle-phobics. He uses the wand, as well as “syringes” that don’t look like needles. I knew a shot was coming, but because I didn’t see it, I didn’t panic. It was brilliant, and the most painless injection I’ve ever had.”
“The wand is a gift from god.”
How can I find a dentist who uses the Wand?
In the UK, you can find out which dentists in your area offer the Wand or STA system through the UK distributor, Dental Sky. They are in the process of building a dedicated online search function for this which will be launched later this year but in the meantime they can be contacted by phone on 0800 294 4700 or by email on [email protected]