Over the years, searching for more effective anesthesias for dental care has been a journey for those in the field. The beginning search for dental anesthesia likely started millennia ago. Numerous forms of anesthesia have seen continuous use throughout ancient history, and we’re going to go over this interesting part of history by seeing how anesthetics have evolved in dentistry.
How Dental Anesthesia Has Evolved Over The Years
Originally, the first known records of it come from Ancient Egyptians. Europe’s Medieval years showing usage of anesthesias in different practices is rather well documented, but in multiple ways, remained essentially unchanged from their ancient forebears.
Over time, narcotics became a regular choice in the form of opioids. Still, herbal remedies such as henbane were not unheard of. One anesthetic used throughout the ages was strong alcohol. These were effective to various degrees but had harmful side effects, especially regarding their ability to induce addiction.
These approaches to dental anesthesia would persist for millennia until their arrival until the 18th and 19th centuries. During this time, many advancements were made in the area of medicine and the use of anesthetics. Through experimentation and experience, dentists used three common forms of treatment. Some examples of these previously used anesthetics include:
- Implementation Of Cocaine – Cocaine has been known for its ability to numb sensations and soothe patients during treatment. However, it is also highly addictive and would result in lasting problems with narcotic dependence in the patient. This fact was supported by the fact that it was legal and could be obtained from any pharmacist.
- Morphine – Dentists often use another narcotic for treating pain in patients. Its effects are potent, making the treatments almost painless. However, it shares the addictive quality associated with all narcotics. Today it is only used in severe pain or when other approaches do not work. It has no use in modern dentistry.
- Ether – This treatment is an alcohol that is often mixed with waxes, resins, and gums for industrial applications. However, it also renders patients unconscious during their dental care. However, it also can cause paralysis of the respiratory system, unconsciousness, and intoxication. These properties led to it being discontinued.
Ultimately, two of these forms would go to the wayside, while some remain in use today. The one medication invented during this time that has remained a mainstay of dental care is Nitrous Oxide. Nitrous oxide, commonly known as laughing gas, induces a euphoric high in patients. It’s not a pain killer but reduces stress and anxiety while leaving the patient conscious. This gas changes the patient’s perception of pain, making its impact less noticeable.
How Anesthetics Are Used In Modern Dentistry
Since the golden age of medicine and anesthetics, incredible leaps have been made in pain control technology. Those seeing dentists in the modern era will receive anesthetics like Novocain. This numbing agent is harmless, non-addictive, and quite practical. More advanced treatments may require more potent anesthetics administered by a qualified provider. Speak to your dentists about your next dental appointment and ask what forms of anesthesia might be available and may be required for your care.