A sniff instead of a shot before dental work?

dental injection

Do you cringe before your dentist gives you that anesthetic shot to numb your mouth before dental work?  Does the possibility of that shot even keep you away from the drill?

There may be a better way: a nasal spray.

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have had success using an anesthetic called Kovanaze in spray form.”There is really nothing else like this,” says Dr. Elliot Hersh, the study’s lead author at Penn Dental Medicine. “This is obviously a great thing for needle-phobic individuals, and it can reduce inadvertent needle-stick injuries in the clinic as well.”

Numbing spray shows good results

The double-blind, randomized trial found that combining the local anesthetic tetracaine and the nasal decongestant oxymetazoline, (used in products such as Afrin), was effective at preventing pain during a single restorative procedure in an upper bicuspid, canine, or incisor in 88 percent of patients.  That’s a rate comparable to the success of commonly used injectable numbing agents. The most common side effects were runny nose and nasal congestion; no serious side effects were reported.

The trial recruited 150 adults set to undergo a single dental filling in an upper bicuspid, canine, or incisor. One hundred patients were assigned Kovanaze and 50 were assigned a placebo spray.

Patients received one spray, waited four minutes, received a second spray, waited 10 minutes and then a test drilling was performed. If they experienced pain, they received a third spray. Patients who still experienced pain at that point received a rescue injection of local anesthetic for the procedure.

Kovanaze was developed by St. Renatus and received FDA approval June 29.

To follow up on the study, Hersh says the company will likely pursue investigations to see if more invasive dental procedures can be performed using this anesthetic. It’s likely that further studies will also evaluate whether it can be safely administered to children. Current FDA approval is for a single maxillary restorative procedure in individuals weighing at least 88 pounds.

About the Author

Ed Tobias
Ed Tobias brings more than four decades of reporting and news management experience to his work at Rx411. Tobias managed news coverage for Associated Press Radio for over twenty years. This included coverage of the 9/11 attacks, the Iraq War, Hurricane Katrina, the death of Princess Diana, the Challenger and Columbia shuttle disasters and national election primaries, conventions and campaigns. He was part of the team that built AP’s on-line video operation. Prior to joining AP, Tobias was News Director at all-news WTOP in Washington, D.C.