Before the introduction of Novocaine in the very early 1900's, cocaine was the original dental anesthetic. Obviously, cocaine had to be replaced due to its euphoric and addictive qualities and along came novocaine! For years novocaine was the most widely used and popular anesthetic in dentistry and today any local anesthetic injected into you is referred to as "novocaine". But novocaine isn't actually used anymore.
Novocaine was replaced by safer anesthetics, the most popular of these being lidocaine. The majority of people who go to the dentist to have cavities filled will be injected with lidocaine. Lidocaine is more effective, more hypoallergenic, and can be better controlled to determine how long it lasts and how numb the area is meant to be.
While there are a countless amount of local anesthetics available on the market, we use five different types of anesthetics in our office. We choose depending on how long we want the patient numb for, how numb we want them, and according to the patient's health and medical history. All types of anesthetics are processed in the body differently, some are processed in the liver whereas others are processed in the bloodstream.
If you just can't stand waiting for the numbness to pass there is a drug available called OraVerse. After the procedure is completed, OraVerse is injected into the same area and reverses the effects of the anesthetic. All feeling is returned to the previously numbed area pretty much immediately. However, OraVerse has it's side effects which include possible cardiac disturbances, and the good doesn't really outweigh the bad. Why take a drug to speed up regaining feeling in an area that, if left alone, would probably lose the numbness within the hour anyway?