Clinical Comparison: Fast-Acting and Traditional Topical Dental Anesthetic

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A randomized, nonblinded clinical trial compared the effectiveness of an application method of a fast-acting refrigerant topical agent to a 20% benzocaine gel topical. In a split-mouth design, right and left anterior middle superior alveolar injections (N = 30) were administered with a 27-gauge needle at least 24 hours apart with preinjection topicals. Using a cotton-tipped applicator, a refrigerant topical was applied for 5 seconds and 20% benzocaine gel for 2 minutes on opposite sides at 2 separate appointments. Subjects self-reported pain perception after each injection using a visual analog scale (VAS). The mean VAS ratings demonstrated no significant difference between the 5-second application of the refrigerant (M = 16.2, SD =17.7) and the 2-minute application of 20% benzocaine topical gel anesthetic (M = 17.9, SD = 18.2). Fifty-seven percent of the subjects reported greater pain reduction with the refrigerant, 33% reported greater pain reduction with 20% benzocaine, and 10% reported no difference. Results suggest the described method of application of a refrigerant as an oral topical anesthetic has a faster onset and provides similar benefit in pain reduction compared with 20% benzocaine gel. The refrigerant was easy to accomplish and well received by subjects, indicating potential for routine use in dentistry.

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