History of Dental Anesthesia

Closeup of a woman wearing a nitrous oxide nose mask for a post about the history of dental sedation

There’s no denying that the invention of dental anesthesia revolutionized oral healthcare. With all the sedation options out there these days, modern patients are able to stay calm and comfortable throughout even the most intensive procedures like tooth extractions and dental implant surgery. But how exactly did we get to this point? Here’s a brief history of dental anesthesia:

Alternative Use for Nitrous Oxide

In 1844, Horace Wells realized that the nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, he saw being used in a street performance for entertainment could also numb pain. What did Wells have as a profession? He was none other than a dentist! After practicing with it on himself, Wells began using it with some of his own patients.

The Use of Ether

In 1846, another dentist named Dr. William Morton figured out that a pleasant-smelling gas called diethyl ether could be used in oral procedures to numb pain. In a letter to Morton, physician Oliver Wendell Holmes offered up the term “anesthesia” to describe the discovery.

Discovery of Local Anesthetic

Then in the early 1900s, a German chemist named Alfred Einhorn discovered Novocaine, which could numb certain areas of the mouth. Then, a surgeon named Heinrich Braun began using it in his medical work.

Synthesis of Lidocaine

In 1943, Swedish chemists Nils Löfgren and Bengt Lundqvis first synthesized Lidocaine, but the anesthetic didn’t start being marketed until 1949. Dentists began to use this instead of Novocaine due to Lidocaine’s fast-acting, long-lasting nature.

Modern Dental Sedation

Dental sedation is safe and relaxing when administered by our expert team. It can make your dental visits more enjoyable and less stressful. If you’re interested in learning more about dental anesthesia, or if you have questions about your sedation options here at Seaport Family Dentistry, contact us today! We would be thrilled to hear from you.