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Hate needles? Dentists may soon use nasal spray

Forget those scary needles; an anesthetic nasal spray is on its way to the dentist’s office.

Kovanaz is a pain-killing nasal spray which has now received FDA approval for use in dentistry. Patients must weigh at least 88 pounds to use the spray, according to the FDA. More tests might expand use to smaller children.

According to the Journal of the American Dental Association, Kovanaz is a combination of the anesthetic Tetracaine and the nasal decongestant Oxymetazoline. In its Phase 3 trial, the spray was demonstrated to be as effective at preventing pain as a shot for 88 percent of patients during a simple filling operation. This is comparable to the success of numbing injections. Side effects were minimal.

The product was developed by medical research company St. Renatus, named after the 5th-century patron saint of anesthesia.

It was discovered after a serendipitous accident. Co-founder Mark Kollar took a basketball to the chin and required 21 stitches. The doctor who stitched him up also diagnosed him with a deviated nasal septum. On Kollar’s follow-up visit, the doctor gave him a nasal spray containing Tetracaine to remove a nasal stent.

But Kollar noticed that his teeth were numb. And, it so happened that other patients had reported this.

A practicing dentist, Kollar tested his teeth with a pulp stimulator and found that his teeth were, in fact, numb.

The company hopes the new anesthetic will make trips to the dentist much less stressful.

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