Collaboration issues, such as those related to pain control and dental anxiety, by both pediatric and adult subjects, represent an important voice to be considered in the daily practice of the dentist. Analyzing the issue from the point of view of the management of professional activity, these problems can have a negative impact on the organization of the agenda, lengthening the operating time. This could also have an economic impact.
At this point, observe the situation in opposite terms, investigating the perception of the therapy by the patient, considering the economic value perceived by him. In this regard, there is a special index, called the Willingness to Pay (WTP) Index, whose use has already been documented in the field of cardiology and diabetes, both in relation to pharmacological therapies and interventions on lifestyles.
An interesting study by Prof. Re and colleagues has, in fact, introduced this index in the field of dentistry, in order to investigate the impact among patients of an alternative technique of administration of local anesthetic.
A total of 50 dental patients took part in the prospective work (30 males and 20 females with an age range between 25 and 60 years). Each reported two distinct tooth decays of the same type – class I or II – treated in two consecutive appointments no more than 7 days apart. The first operation was performed under local anesthesia according to conventional injection technique. In the second one, the same operator used a computer-controlled local anesthetic delivery (CCLAD) system.
Immediately after the second administration, the patient was subjected to a questionnaire consisting of a VAS scale to assess the perceived discomfort, a comparison with the previous anesthetic procedure (i.e. the conventional one) and, finally, the WTP evaluation, formulated as a pole. The patient was asked if he was willing to pay a supplement for the alternative treatment: starting from a base of $10, the patient could also raise up to 50. Otherwise, he would have indicated 0.
The average value of VAS was 1.6/10 for women and 1.7/10 for men. 86% of patients declared that the discomfort decreased with the CCLAD method. More than half of the sample (58%) also said they were willing to pay an additional price: most of them (28%) indicated a WTP of $20. This result confirms the positive perception of patients towards the method. It would be desirable to continue on this track, for example by crossing with the WTP the variable of dental anxiety, to which reference has been made at the beginning of this treatment.