Anbesol: Instant Pain Relief?

It’s the weekend, around 7 pm and you feel this dull ache in the upper right quadrant of your mouth.  You try to ignore it and as time goes on it begins to throb a bit.  You run to the pharmacy and go down the aisle of analgesics.  This one package catches your eyes – Anbesol maximum strength gel, instant pain relief for toothaches, gum pain, canker sores or denture pain.  You pick up a package and take it home.

The dull ache begins to turn to a throbbing pain and you open the Anbesol package and squeeze out a pea sized amount to apply to the area you feel the throbbing pain expecting relief (as the package says Instant Pain Relief).  Anbesol formulation is 20% benzocaine which is an ester anesthetic commonly used as a topical pain reliever blocking nerve signals in your body.  Does relief come?  The issue at hand with a toothache is the fact that the nerve of the tooth is in the pulp chamber of the tooth.  To block a nerve, you have to penetrate the skin, or in this case, the tooth enamel to penetrate to the pulp chamber which a gel will not.  It would be fine for nerves close to the surface such as the skin, but it will not get to the pulp chamber.  The gel would need to penetrate the enamel of the tooth to the dentin tissue and finally to the pulp chamber containing the nerve and blood vessels.  If it were a canker sore it would be at the surface and the gel would be somewhat effective for a short time, but if it is really your tooth that is having real pain your next call would be to Columbia Dental in Manchester which is open 7 days a week with its dentists and specialists there to aid you in the relief of your pain.

You must be very careful when using this medication to ensure you do not swallow it and keep it out of the hands of children.  Anbesol is a topical medication and only to be used on the surface and not internally.

Dentists do use benzocaine. It has prescription strength and is what is used to numb your gum before injecting an anesthetic that WILL affect the pulp chamber, blocking the nerves.

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