A new study published in Colloids and Surfaces B: Biointerfaces suggests that pre-numbing and needles might not be necessary soon; the research reveals how the dentist could give you anesthetic using a tiny electric current instead of a needle.

Dr. Renata Fonseca Vianna Lopez, one of the authors of the study and Associate Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of São Paulo in Brazil, said the findings could improve dental procedures and bring relief to millions of people who are scared of needles. It would also save money and avoid contamination and infection, she explained: "Needle-free administration could save costs, improve patient compliance, facilitate application and decrease the risks of intoxication and contamination. This may facilitate access to more effective and safe dental treatments for thousands of people around the world."

In the study, Dr. Lopez and her colleagues investigated a way of getting anesthetics into the body more effectively to see if they could replace needles altogether. They found that applying a tiny electric current – a process called iontophoresis – made the anesthetics more effective.

This article originally appeared in Colloids and Surfaces B: Biointerfaces Volume 136,  2015, Pages 1193–1201. Read more about it here.

Colloids and Surfaces B: Biointerfaces is an international journal devoted to fundamental and applied research on colloid and interfacial phenomena in relation to systems of biological origin, having particular relevance to the medical, pharmaceutical, biotechnological, food and cosmetic fields.