No Lingering Numbness After Dental Procedures

Next to “getting a shot” do you hate leaving the dental office with numbness, wondering if you are drooling on yourself or afraid you will bite your tongue when you eat? Help is on the way.

Novalar Phamaceuticles of San Diego has just won approval for OraVerse from the FDA. In clinical trials OraVerse cut the time it took for full sensation to return to the numbed area by more than half. The basis for the drug is a decades old anti-hypertensive drug. After a dentist finishes a procedure where anesthesia is used, the dentist would inject OraVerse into the same site. It doesn’t literally “reverse” the anesthetic, but utilizes an indirect approach. Here’s how it works: When a dentist administer local anesthetics it is usually combined with another drug called epinephrine that acts to constrict the blood vessels. This keeps the blood from carrying away the anesthetic too quickly. OraVerse does the opposite, dilating blood vessels so the anesthetic can be carried away faster.

Some procedures, such as extractions, where longer anesthesia will keep the patient more comfortable would likely not be advisable for OraVerse use. Since an additional dental procedure will come with some cost to the patient, OraVerse may may be too costly for routine use. However, for patients concerned about being able to eat or speak without numbness after a dental procedure, the availability of this new dental procedure, may be worth the additional incremental cost.