Injectable and topical local anesthetics for acute dental pain Journal Articles uri icon

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  • BACKGROUND: Local anesthesia is essential for pain control in dentistry. The authors assessed the comparative effect of local anesthetics on acute dental pain after tooth extraction and in patients with symptomatic irreversible pulpitis. TYPES OF STUDIES REVIEWED: The authors searched MEDLINE, EMBASE, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, and the US Clinical Trials registry through November 21, 2020. The authors included randomized controlled trials (RCTs) comparing long- vs short-acting injectable anesthetics to reduce pain after tooth extraction (systematic review 1) and evaluated the effect of topical anesthetics in patients with symptomatic pulpitis (systematic review 2). Pairs of reviewers screened articles, abstracted data, and assessed risk of bias using a modified version of the Cochrane risk of bias 2.0 tool. The authors assessed the certainty of the evidence using the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation approach. RESULTS: Fourteen RCTs comparing long- vs short-acting local anesthetics suggest that bupivacaine may decrease the use of rescue analgesia and may not result in additional adverse effects (low certainty evidence). Bupivacaine probably reduces the amount of analgesic consumption compared with lidocaine with epinephrine (mean difference, -1.91 doses; 95% CI, -3.35 to -0.46; moderate certainty) and mepivacaine (mean difference, -1.58 doses; 95% CI, -2.21 to -0.95; moderate certainty). Five RCTs suggest that both benzocaine 10% and 20% may increase the number of people experiencing pain reduction compared with placebo when managing acute irreversible pulpitis (low certainty). PRACTICAL IMPLICATIONS: Bupivacaine may be superior to lidocaine with epinephrine and mepivacaine with regard to time to and amount of analgesic consumption. Benzocaine may be superior to placebo in reducing pain for 20 through 30 minutes after application.


  • Miroshnychenko, Anna
  • Ibrahim, Sara
  • Azab, Maria
  • Roldan, Yetiani
  • Diaz Martinez, Juan Pablo
  • Tamilselvan, Divyalakshmi
  • He, Leon
  • Urquhart, Olivia
  • Tampi, Malavika
  • Polk, Deborah E
  • Moore, Paul A
  • Hersh, Elliott V
  • Carrasco-Labra, Alonso
  • Brignardello, Romina

publication date

  • January 2023