Novocaine, a local anesthetic
Novocain is the more well-known commercial name for procaine hydrochloride, which is a commonly used local anesthetic. It is frequently used in dentistry as a numbing agent. While procaine is the technical name of the drug, because of the commonness of the name Novocain, it is often generically referred to as novocaine. Novocaine was created in 1905 and introduced into medical use shortly thereafter, replacing the commonly used local anesthetic cocaine. Unlike cocaine, novocaine does not have addictive or euphoric qualities and is therefore significantly safer and less likely to be abused. It is occasionally blended with street drugs like cocaine and MDMA, however, a mix which may be life-threatening. While other anesthetics have become preferable for different medical procedures, novocaine remains a commonly used local anesthetic for dental treatments.
Novocaine or other local anesthetics are often used for dental procedures like filling dental cavities or removing the wisdom teeth. Novocaine works by suppressing the nervous system so that the nerves do not transmit pain signals to the brain. Novocaine usually takes about 5 to 10 minutes to take effect, and the numbness it creates usually lasts from 30 to 60 minutes, depending on the amount used. Dosage depends on the type of procedure and the size and location of the treatment site; areas with a larger number of nerve endings require a larger dosage. Because its effects don’t last very long, it may be combined with other drugs, like epinephrine, to prolong the numbing effect. About one in 5,000 people have a genetic condition that causes the effects of novocaine to last significantly longer than usual.
While novocaine is considered a very safe drug, it is possible to overdose on it. This happens incredibly rarely, however, both because of the precision of dentistry and because relatively little novocaine is needed to be effective, especially when combined with epinephrine. Novocaine is injected into the body, usually the gums, which may sting or burn. In patients with dental anxiety or anxiety about needles, dentists may administer nitrous oxide before injecting novocaine, to reduce fear and induce relaxation. In the area of the injection site, you may feel a tingling sensation or mild soreness as the numbing effects of novocaine wear off. Side effects of novocaine may include numbness or tingling, headaches, dizziness or drowsiness, muscle twitches, and minor pain where the injection occurred. In cases of allergic reaction, which is rare, patients may experience itching, hives, difficulty breathing, swelling, of loss of consciousness. Allergic response is estimated to occur in about 1 out of every 500,000 injections and may be more common in certain ethnic groups, due to a deficiency of enzymes that help metabolize certain types of anesthetics. Novocaine may also not be recommended for patients with liver or heart problems, problems with clotting, any neuromuscular disorders, or other significant medical conditions; be sure to discuss any health problems you may have with your dentist in advance of any procedure. It is also unknown whether novocaine can harm fetuses in utero or whether it passes through breast milk.