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OREM — Brian Howard does heavy lifting at his stone products importing business. He also does some risky maneuvers working with Utah County Search and Rescue.
"I'll never forget the camaraderie on that team," he said.
But going to the dentist has always been a challenge.
"I hated it," Howard said.
Howard, who lives in Provo, said dentists had trouble numbing his mouth, even after three or four tries — until now.
Gregory Tuttle, D.D.S., of Tuttle Family Dental said his single-tooth anesthesia works instantly, instead of the traditional nerve block that takes two to 11 minutes to work.
"It's just going to numb that one tooth," he said. "Your lip and tongue are not going to be numb."
Tuttle said it works on even the toughest cases, like Howard.
"Imperceptible penetration. Only a couple of drops," Tuttle said.
The injection is interosseous: penetrating the bone rather than soft tissue. It works best on the lower jaw, where nerves are more hidden, dentists say.
In 2003, Tuttle used a sharper needle and a secondary technique on a difficult patient like Howard. It worked so well, he decided to use this approach exclusively.
"It was instant and my whole face isn't numb," Howard said. "I can feel my tongue. I can taste."
Tuttle said he hasn't found a patient that his method doesn't work on. He uses it for everything — from fillings, root canals and extractions to implants.
Brent Larson, President of the Utah Dental Association (UDA), said there are many techniques for single-tooth anesthesia. He said Tuttle's method, presented to the UDA last year, is gaining popularity but may not work for everyone.
"No technique works for every dentist," Larson said. "You always use what works best in your hands. A lot of times you want more than just the tooth numb. A lot of times you want the area numb — especially if you're working on multiple teeth."
Larson uses Tuttle's method and said it works most of the time, but not in every case.
"I have yet to find any technique that is always 100 percent effective," Larson said. "Everybody's anatomy is different."
Tuttle uses his technique on humanitarian trips to the Dominican Republic, where many patients are seeing a dentist for the first time.
"If you have one bad experience, you could scar them for life," Tuttle said.
Howard doesn't mind going to the dentist anymore, and said it's a relief.
"To not have the anxiety and the pain of coming in and having work done," he said.
And a half-hour later, he was back to work doing what he loves most — and not worrying about his teeth.