Topical anesthetic reduces the discomfort associated with the anesthetic injection. It is effective to a depth of 2-3mm. The use of topical anesthetic is beneficial for reducing patient discomfort during the administration of high-quality injectable anesthetics. Topical anesthetics may be a disadvantage in children if the taste is disagreeable to the patient so many topical anesthetics come in a variety of patient-friendly flavors.
Topical anesthetic gel dental applications with flavoring are quite popular. Other forms come as liquid, ointment, patch and pain ease spray forms. The most common topical anesthetics used in dentistry are those containing benzocaine or lidocaine for the reduction of lidocaine HCl injection or other procedures like deep cleaning. Reducing pain and discomfort associated with the dental needle parts of treatment increases trust and patient confidence.
Benzocaine is an ester local anesthetic available in up to 20% concentrations. It is not known to produce systemic toxicity but may produce a local allergic reaction in those with regular repeated exposure; observation is recommended during the initial application. Due to its inhibited ability to absorb into the bloodstream and low toxicity, Benzocaine gels may be the best topical anesthetic for pediatric dentistry.
Lidocaine is available as a solution or ointment up to 5% concentration and as a spray up to 10% concentration with a low incidence of an allergic reaction. Lidocaine topical anesthetics should be used with care in pediatric patients due to the ability to be readily absorbed into the bloodstream. A minimal amount of topical lidocaine should be applied or a metered spray is suggested if an aerosol preparation is selected.