Is My Dentist Numbing My Mouth with Novocaine?
Dentists use local anesthesia to ensure a patient’s comfort and safety during a dental procedure; however, the anesthetic being used is not Novocaine. Although we commonly refer to the injection we receive before getting dental work as “a shot of Novocaine,” dentists have not been using this drug to numb patients’ mouths for over 30 years.
What Are They Really Using?
Today, dentists in the United States most commonly use lidocaine as a local anesthetic. As with Novocaine, lidocaine is used on isolated parts of the body to cause numbness or loss of feeling. During dental procedures that may be painful, often due to drilling, lidocaine is administered through a quick injection to the gums. After a little pinch, patients generally won’t feel anything but mild pressure.
The switch to lidocaine was made due to its effectiveness and for being less likely to cause allergic reactions in comparison to Novocaine.
The History of Local Anesthetics in Dentistry
The history of drugs that have been used in dentistry is vast and somewhat shocking. Some of the drugs our grandparents and great grandparents were administered for dental work during their time are now considered very dangerous and dentists would never dream of using them today!
Can you guess what drug dentists first used as a numbing agent? While, there were many different procedures going around, having patients consume large amounts of alcohol was most common. In 1884, cocaine was the first local anesthetic used in a dental procedure. While cocaine was more effective at producing numbness than alcohol, it of course came with many negative side effects.
In 1905, a drug called procaine, which is the generic name for Novocaine, was synthesized. The company that distributed procaine as Novocaine quickly became the most widely used by dentists, so the brand name of the drug stuck. In the mid 1900s, a new class of local anesthetics was developed. With new drugs on the market that were less likely to cause allergic reactions, the prominence of Novocaine began declining in the 1960s. By 1980, most dentists had made the switch to lidocaine.
Remember: Local Anesthetics are used to Provide Comfort and Safety!
While the idea of an injection may be scary, dentists administer them using professional judgment and safety precautions. Local anesthetics are used to keep patients as comfortable as possible during a dental procedure. If you have questions or concerns about the local anesthetics used at Daxon Dentistry, don’t hesitate to give us a call before scheduling your next dental procedure!