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For Oral Surgery, Nasal Sprays May Replace Numbing Injections

For many patients, the worst aspect of oral surgery or tooth extraction is the numbing injections. 


The fear of these potentially uncomfortable anesthetic shots causes many patients to delay or avoid necessary treatments. Soon, however, needles may not be necessary to provide pain relief during oral and dental procedures. 

The FDA recently approved a new nasal spray anesthetic called Kovanaze that may prove to change the future of oral surgery. 

What Is Nasal Spray Anesthetic? 

Kovanaze is a needle-free option for administering anesthesia, delivered through the nasal cavity. Although this may sound strange, this nasal spray works effectively to numb the mouth. 

The concept for Kovanaze came about when one of the company’s founders had surgery for a deviated septum. In a follow-up procedure, he was given a nasal spray anesthetic to remove a nasal stent. Afterward, he noticed that his mouth was numb. 

After learning that other patients had reported similar results, the company pursued the development of a nasal spray specifically for use as a dental and oral surgery anesthetic. 

How Nasal Spray Anesthetic Works in Oral Surgery Procedures 

The FDA approved Kovanaze at the end of June, 2016, so it hasn’t seen much widespread use by dentists or oral surgeons just yet. However, clinical trials and scientific research studies have proven an effectiveness of up to 96 percent. 

The patient is typically administered two brief sprays of Kovanaze, approximately four to five minutes apart. 

After 10 minutes, the procedure begins, and if necessary, a third spray is administered. For most patients, this is sufficient to provide adequate numbing. In limited cases, some patients may require an injection of a local anesthetic. 

Which Oral Surgery Procedures Are Appropriate for Nasal Anesthetic? 

Currently, Kovanaze is approved for use with dental restorative procedures involving the incisors, cuspids or bicuspids. 

As a result, nasal spray anesthetic is appropriate for work involving the molars and wisdom teeth. Additional scientific research will be necessary to determine whether Kovanaze is effective for more intensive dental and surgical procedures, such as root canals, impacted wisdom tooth removal and oral cancer tissue biopsies. 

Kovanaze is approved for use only in patients who weigh at least 40 kilograms, or roughly 88 pounds. However, since children could significantly benefit from a needle-free anesthetic, further studies are planned to evaluate the drug’s safety for younger oral surgery patients. 

Kovanaze won’t be widely available for several more months. However, those patients who are worried about numbing injections can also consider other anesthetic options, such as oral sedation and laughing gas. The board-certified oral surgeons of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery of Utah work with all patients to select the method of anesthesia that will provide them most comfortable experience. 

Contact one of our Salt Lake City area offices today to schedule a consultation with our compassionate and experienced oral surgery team.

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