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What kinds of dental pain does topical benzocaine relieve?

Topical benzocaine -- an anesthetic that’s applied to the skin or gums -- can relieve many kinds of dental pain, from the ache of teething in babies to discomfort from dentures in seniors. It can also help soothe pain from canker sores, cold sores, fever blisters and toothaches, and irritation caused by braces or injuries. Dentists apply it to the gums to reduce the pain of injections. Benzocaine works by temporarily numbing the area.

Warning: Don’t use benzocaine if you’ve had an allergic reaction to it in the past or to any product that ends in “caine.”
The kind of dental pain topical benzocaine relieves can range from canker sores to discomfort caused by dentures in seniors. Benzocaine can be applied directly to a tooth and its surrounding gum to bring temporary relief of a toothache until you can get to the dentist. If you have to undergo a dental procedure that requires local anesthesia, your dentist may first apply a topical anesthetic such as benzocaine to your gums to numb the area to minimize discomfort caused by the needle.

Benzocaine is found in many over-the-counter gels for teething babies, but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says it should not be used in children under two years of age, because of the possibility of a rare but serious blood problem. For more information about benzocaine and ways to use it safely to reduce dental pain, talk to your dentist or pharmacist.

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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.