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Articaine: A Local Anesthetic

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Medically Reviewed By Colgate Global Scientific Communications

If you're undergoing a dental procedure soon, you may be wondering what pain killer will be used to ensure you don't experience any unnecessary anxiety or pain. In recent decades, various local anesthetics have revolutionized dentists' ways of turning off pain receptors in a specific area of your mouth. And articaine is the 2nd most popular anesthetic to grace the offices of dental professionals across the US for various reasons. If you think your dentist may use articaine during your procedure, we'll give you some important details so you can go into the dentist's office feeling confident and come out smiling after the procedure.

The History of Anesthetics and Dentistry

An article published in BMC Anesthesiology reports that ether anesthesia was the first anesthetic ever used by a dentist in 1846. It remained the standard general anesthetic until the mid-1900s, but the high flammability, nausea, and various side effects of ether were eventually put aside for safer, more effective, localized pain relievers. You may have heard about the novocaine alternative as it's historically one of the most well known dental anesthetics. Now, lidocaine and articaine are most common.

An important point of clarification, if you found your way to this article researching the differences between septocaine vs. novocaine - septocaine is an anesthetic that uses articaine.

Consistent improvements in pain medication over the last several decades have increased trust in dental professionals. Efficacy of anesthetics has been essential in removing much of the stigma associated with visits to the dentist, allowing dental professionals to help more people improve their oral hygiene.

Lidocaine – The "Gold Standard"

According to an evaluation published in the Journal of Conservative Dentistry, lidocaine has been the most commonly used local anesthetic in the US since 1948 and is labeled the "gold standard" due to its "efficacy, low allergenicity, and minimal toxicity."

If you're undergoing a dental procedure soon and you're unsure what your dental professional will use to numb your pain – lidocaine is the most likely option if you live in the US. However, there may be one or various reasons they opt to use articaine instead.

Articaine – A Safe, Viable Alternative to Novocaine and Lidocaine

Articaine was first used in Europe in 1976, is the most widely used local anesthetic in many parts of Europe, and was approved for use in the US by the FDA in 2000. It is now the second most commonly used local anesthetic in the United States behind lidocaine because it is another effective, safe option for numbing pain in a specific area of your mouth.

Both articaine and lidocaine are legitimate options to ensure you are as comfortable as possible during a dental procedure. Because there are various procedures you could require an anesthetic for, your dental professional will best be able to explain their choice of anesthetic for your specific needs.

Medical Considerations

As with any medication, it's essential to check with your medical professional to ensure you won't have any adverse drug interactions and that these local anesthetics will not negatively affect any medical conditions you currently have. The liver and kidneys process articaine and lidocaine, so if you have any medical conditions concerning these organs, seek advice from your medical professional.


After receiving a local anesthetic in your mouth, pay special care to the numbed area, so you don't injure your tissue. Normal biting or chewing could injure your soft tissue when you don't have any sensation in that part of your mouth. Speak to your dental professional about aftercare for your specific procedure.

How Long Do Anesthetics Last After Dental Work?

The short answer? Long enough! It typically takes 30 to 60 minutes for the numbness to go away, but it can last for hours. Everyone responds differently to anesthesia. Your dental professional will make sure the right dosage is administered so you can stay as comfortable as possible through the entire procedure and can provide a more precise estimate for regaining full sensation in your mouth. Give them a call if you're concerned about any lingering numbness.

How to Make Numbness Wear Off Faster

The numbing effects wear off when your blood carries the anesthetic away in the bloodstream. Usually, this happens pretty quickly, but you might want to speed things up. If that's the case, talk to your dentist about the following options:

  • Go for a walk. Increasing your blood flow should help the numbness disappear faster, so do something physical like walking or bike riding. Make sure you get your dentist's sign off before attempting any strenuous activity. Many procedures require an extended rest period.
  • Ask about a reversal medication. Your dentist can administer an injection to reverse the effects of the local anesthetic. However, this medication often costs extra and is not covered by insurance.

Other home remedies recommend massaging the area or applying a warm compress to help increase blood flow. However, check with your dentist before touching the treatment site, so you don't cause unnecessary harm.

Now that you know more about articaine, we hope you feel more comfortable and confident going into your dental professional's office for your procedure. We hope your experience is pain-free and that you come out smiling. You can do this!


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This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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