4 Things you Didn’t Know About Novocain From a Charleston Dentist

Oftentimes, when people refer to sedation dentistry, they usually refer to having an injection of Novocain. However, most dentists stopped using Novocain in the 1940s! Here are some interesting facts about the history of Novocain, one of the first drugs ever used in modern sedation dentistry.

Fact 1: Novocain was almost the first manmade anesthetic.  

Novocain was first synthesized in 1905 by German chemist Alford Einhorn, two years after the first manmade anesthetic, Amylocaine, was created. Einhorn named his discovery after the Latin term “Nova”, or “new”, and “caine”, a common ending for alkaloids at the time.

Fact 2: Novocain was never intended to be used for dentistry.

Einhorn wanted Novocain to be used during amputations and other surgeries, and was disappointed when dentists started using it. It is rumored that Einhorn actually spent his days trying to discourage Novocain from being used for the “mundane purpose” of drilling teeth. Surgeons, for their part, preferred for patients to be totally unconscious during their procedures—as did, we’re guessing, the patients themselves.

Fact 3: Novocain replaced cocaine.   

Before Novocain was discovered, the most commonly used local anesthetic was cocaine, which was first introduced as a cure for Civil War soldiers’ morphine addictions. Over time, it became evident that cocaine was highly addictive and often toxic, prompting researchers to search for an alternative. Before cocaine, dentists used—believe it or not—large quantities of alcohol.

Fact 4: The vast majority of modern dentists don’t use Novocain.

Novocain (or its non-trade name, Procain) was discontinued in dentistry because it can cause an allergic reaction in some patients. It was replaced in 1948 by Lidocaine, which is less allergenic, faster-acting, and longer-lasting. Lidocaine is listed in the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines, the most effective and safe medicines needed in a functioning health system.

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We hope that you enjoyed reading these unusual sedation dentistry facts! If you need a sedation procedure or any type of dental procedure in Charelston SC, contact us here to schedule an appointment.