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Easy Anesthetic and Preventing Cavities With Sugar

Pain-free Dental Anesthetic

Many patients avoid the dentist over common fears, such as the pain associated with needles. But a start-up company in Colorado may be changing the face of dental anesthetic forever — no pun intended.

The company, St. Renatus, is currently working with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to obtain approval to bring an anesthetic in the form of a nasal mist, called Koacaine, to the market.

The mist is designed to anesthetize the maxillary arch, which is the top arch on the inside of the mouth, where needle anesthetic is often required to be injected.

Another advantage concerns patient health: Mist anesthetic does not circulate in the bloodstream for as long as injected anesthetics, so it is less harmful to the kidneys, liver, and lungs, according to an article in Innovation News. And since its effect would wear off more quickly, it could mean less drooling and other side effects, such as needle-site pain, after a completed procedure. In addition, a pediatric formulation could make treating children with an anesthetic much less stressful for children, parents, and practitioners.

Preventing Cavities With Sugar

Sugar is generally known as the arch enemy of good oral health. But it appears that some sugar byproducts may actually help prevent cavities. These byproducts are called sugar alcohols, and they’ve been showing up in everything from gum to protein bars, and bottled beverages to toothpaste.

The most popular sugar alcohol, and the one that seems to get the most publicity, is xylitol. Xylitol also has a less-well-known little brother called sorbitol. Both are members of the polyol family, which typically are hydrogenated carbohydrates used as non-caloric (calorie-free) sugar substitutes. In general, sugar alcohols have been shown to both not create the conditions required for cavity formation, but to also prevent the conditions from occurring in the first place, which is why you see them so often in gum and toothpaste.

Unfortunately, most sugar alcohols, when used in larger amounts (such as the amount required to sweeten a candy bar), can also cause digestive upset due to the way they’re processed by the body (they essentially aren’t absorbed), so they aren’t often used in foods.

However, that may be about to change. Erythritol is a third type of sugar alcohol that has been around for two decades, but is recently finding its way into more products. Unlike other sugar alcohols, erythritol is made naturally by fermentation, and studies have shown that digestive issues are much less common, and much less noticeable when they do occur. Essentially, it has the same (if not more profound) positive effects as xylitol, such as prevention of cavities and low blood sugar effects, with few of the negative. Look for Erythritol to start showing up in more foods and beverages soon.

– Dr. Shannon Norman-Kotre, Ann Arbor Dentist


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