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Who should not use topical anesthetics?

Everybody! Did I make my opinion clear? Many patients will apply Orajel or Anbesol topical anesthetics to a tooth or their gums when they have a toothache. A toothache is a dental infection caused by bacteria entering the tooth or even deeper into the bone. You need to treat the cause of the problem and placing a numbing gel on it doesn't make it go away. Antibiotics and pain medications, like Advil, should be taken initially along with a call to the dentist.

The active ingredients are: allantoin, benzocaine, camphor and white petrolatum. The two main products, camphor and benzocaine are numbing and anesthetic agents. Orajel - Anbesol contains 20% benzocaine and if used improperly has many dangerous side effects. The FDA recommends against its use as an oral medication yet it is still sold over the counter and often abused. Often times these products will cause a chemical burn making it more difficult for the dentist to find your problem.

Since cold sores are caused by a virus and generally brought on by stress or exposure to the sun, rest and time may be the best remedy. If you have sores inside your mouth the dentist may be able to treat the sore with a laser or prescription topical medication to reduce your pain and speed up the healing process.

If the pain is so bad that you are thinking of applying any of these products to your tooth or the surrounding gum area call the dentist.

If you are allergic to anything found in the medication, do not use the topical treatment. Children and elderly patients can use topical anesthetics, but only under close supervision as they may react negatively to the medication. Certain medical conditions and medications may increase the risk for complications associated with topical anesthetics. Medical conditions include: breastfeeding, pregnancy, infection by the place of application or broken skin by the place of application. You may not be able to use topical anesthetics with certain foods, alcohol or tobacco. Before you begin using this or any other medication, speak with your doctor or pharmacist about the risk for interactions.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.