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HealthWatch: Drug Helps Counteract Numbness From Dental Work

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS 5) - Bay Area dental patients that don't like dealing with a day of face numbness may be in luck -  thanks to a drug that promises to counteract the local anesthetic that dentists use.

I had a two-hour dental appointment to replace a gold crown that had popped off while I was chewing a gum drop.

Dr. E. Esther Lopez, DDS explains that gold is just like teeth and gets worn down over time. When gold gets thin, it can get a tiny hole or perforation and when that happens saliva and bacteria can get underneath the crown and lead to re-decay. She says it's best to re-do the crown to seal it completely.

First, she gives me a local anesthetic. I want to be plenty numb. What I don't want is to be numb all afternoon. That's where OraVerse can help. It's a local anesthetic reversing agent.

Dr. Lopez said dentists usually use lidocaine with epinephrine. The epinephrine is a vasoconstrictor and that helps keep the lidocaine in your tissues longer. She says with an injection of OraVerse the blood vessels dilate again so you get rid of the anesthetic faster. "That way, instead of being numb for 2-3 hours, you're going to be numb maybe an hour, hour and a half", she said.

In clinical trials, within one hour of getting OraVerse, 41% of patients had normal sensation in their lower lip compared to 7% who got a placebo injection. And 59% had normal sensation in their upper lip, compared to 12% in the placebo group.

Numb to normal faster sounded great to me, so we went ahead with an injection of OraVerse in the same spot where I had been given the local anesthetic. I started feeling sensation returning within ten minutes, and by thirty minutes I was almost good as new.

OraVerse costs $15 to $25 dollars. It is for use after routine dental procedures, but not when you need longer pain relief like after a root canal. Dr. Lopez says it can be used in children age 6 and older who weigh at least 33 pounds.

Dr. Lopez also explained that I might notice a bit more discomfort the next day since I had additional injections. That way I see it, it will be worth it.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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