Though we may have a hard time admitting it, we know that professional dental care is a necessary part of reaching and maintaining good oral and overall health. It’s not that individuals are against receiving this necessary care, but they are often concerned about their comfort while receiving it. A dentist always seeks to protect patient comfort as best he can, but the fact is that some dental procedures–such as deep periodontal cleanings, cavity fillings and tooth extractions–are uncomfortable or even painful. There are also instances where a patient is anxious or fearful, which can make routine dental procedures nerve-wracking and uncomfortable or even painful dental procedures all the more difficult to tolerate. Dental anesthesia helps to make patients more comfortable, relaxing them and eliminating pain.
While many dental patients appreciate the fact that dental anesthesia can make dental procedures more comfortable, most agree that it is irritating to have to deal with lingering numbness after the dental procedures are completed. More than simply eliminating sensations in the area, lingering numbness that is caused by dental anesthesia can make it difficult to speak, smile, drink or eat normally. In fact, this numbness can actually lead to self-inflicted injuries when the individual accidentally bites down on the soft tissues of their inner cheek, as well as uncontrolled drooling and even a perceived sense of altered appearance that can be distracting and upsetting. Unfortunately, this is a condition that dental patients assume they must just deal with, as the only obvious alternative–to forego dental anesthesia–is quite undesirable. Luckily, there is another alternative: dental anesthesia reversal.
How Dental Anesthesia Reversal Works
Local anesthesia, the most commonly-used type of dental anesthesia, works because along with a numbing agent they contain a vasoconstrictor. This restricts the size of the blood vessels, which allows the numbing agent to remain in effect for longer. But while this is enormously helpful when one is undergoing dental procedures, it is inconvenient when it lingers past the end of one’s dental visit. This is where a vasodilator can come in handy–increasing the size of blood vessels so that the numbing agent can move more rapidly through and out of the system.
At present, OraVerse is the only local dental anesthesia reversal medication in existence, and it has been proven to cut anesthesia recovery time in half. The active ingredient is called phentolamine mesylate, which studies have demonstrated can speed up the return to normal lip, cheek and tongue sensation following the administration of dental anesthesia. It is not totally understood exactly how phentolamine mesylate works, but it appears to be a vasodilator since it only works if the local anesthetic contains a vasoconstrictor like epinephrine. Clinical trials indicated that OraVerse allowed for the restoration of normal sensation in the upper lip in roughly fifty minutes–compared to the usual one hundred thirty-three minutes–and the restoration of normal sensation in the lower lip in roughly seventy minutes–compared to the usual one hundred fifty-five minutes. This means that patients who were treated with OraVerse were able to smile, speak, drink normally and minimize drooling much more quickly than patients who were not treated with this anesthesia reversal medication.
Dental anesthesia reversal requires that a second shot be given to the individual. Dentists who are well experienced in the use of anesthesia reversal can actually administer the shot while finishing up the dental procedure so that the patient experiences the least amount of “downtime” possible. That said, patients who undergo major dental procedures that tend to produce significant soft tissue, nerve or bone pain, such as wisdom tooth extraction surgery, would be benefitted by the prolonged comfort provided by their dental anesthesia. In these cases, dental anesthesia reversal would not be recommended or administered.
For more information about dental anesthesia reversal, contact Dr. Nurminsky today.