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Microneedles for Painless Local Anaesthesia

A project under the Singapore Oro-facial Initiative (SOFI), this technology aims to provide a non-invasive, painless and efficient local anaesthetic delivery in dentistry.

The project, which is being led by Cl A/Prof Goh Bee Tin, Director, Research and Education and supported by Dr Zayim Razina D/O Seeni Syed, Research Fellow, Dr Liu Yuchun, Junior Principal Investigator and Prof Xu Chenjie, Adjunct Principal Investigator, was awarded $250,000 by the National Health Innovation Centre Singapore's 'Innovation to Develop Grant'.

If successfully translated, the use of microneedles is expected to eliminate patients' phobia of dental anaesthesia delivery. The team hopes this will result in more patients seeking timely dental treatments, eventually reducing the nation's oral disease burden. Clinicians will also save time managing patients with an anxiety or a phobia of needles and pain – improving on their efficiency.

The project involves developing a microneedle (MN) patch that contains a reservoir of anaesthetic drug, and delivering it through the surface of the patients' oral mucosa to the underlying jaw bone. The anaesthetic process is facilitated by passing a low voltage current on the patch (also known as iontophoresis), which serves as a driving force to accelerate drug penetration to the nerves that supply sensation to the teeth.

Anaesthetic process of microneedle patch facilitated by passing a low voltage current on the patch

Preliminary data from the first generation of MN patch used in combination with iontophoresis, showed that it is as effective as the traditional long needle method in inducing dental anaesthesia. The second generation of MN patch has incorporated design improvements and is expected to shorten the timing of delivering the anaesthetic to 5 minutes.

The team also speculates that a smaller dose of drug is needed to achieve anaesthesia as compared to the traditional method of needle injection.