Few things in dentistry are as important as how well the local anesthetic works. A local anesthetic is what a dentist uses in the injection to get their patient numb. Years ago, dentists used the local anesthetic Novocain, and many people still associate it with what the dentist uses for “the shot”. It may surprise you to learn that for many years, dentists have replaced Novocain with safer, more predictable local anesthetics. Some of the most common anesthetics used in dentistry today are lidocaine, bupivacaine, mepivacaine and others. Recently, a local anesthetic called Septocaine (Articaine) has received FDA approval for use in the United States after years of successful use in Europe and Canada.
About two months ago, I read in a dental journal about this new local anesthetic (Septocaine). The article’s authors had written very positively about it, and my interest was piqued. I decided to try Septocaine and found that it was indeed superior to the other local anesthetics that I had been using. I found that my patients became more numb than before, and the vast majority told me that they felt no pain during routine or surgical dental procedures.
It is hard to overstate the importance of a strong local anesthetic. The ability to get a patient numb is fundamental to performing dental treatment painlessly. Procedures that include dental fillings, root canal, having a tooth removed, crowns (caps), implants, gum procedures, etc. would be nearly intolerable without effective local anesthesia. In fact, patients who suffered through dental procedures many years ago without the benefit of local anesthesia may still harbor fears about their experience to this very day.
Although one recent study on Septocaine found it to be equally as effective as other dental anesthetics, I suspect that may change in the future. For now, it’s good to know that all dentists have access to a great new dental anesthetic to aid in patient comfort.