Substances used in dentistry

Dental treatments are complex and varied and the substances used also have a specific purpose, depending on the pathology.

The bacterial concentration in the oral cavity is increased but is successfully counteracted by local defence mechanisms.

These defence mechanisms are effective as long as the patient also maintains proper hygiene, achieved by thorough brushing at least twice a day, supplemented by mouthwash and flossing.

The medicinal substances used during dental procedures, by their composition, have different roles, either to anesthetize, disinfect, decontaminate or relieve dental pain.


Lidocaine is an anesthetic substance that can be administered into the tissues, by injection but also as a spray, to numb mucous membranes for a short time.

For example, lidocaine given by injection is effective for about one hour, while spraying numbs mucosal surfaces for a short time, between 10 and 15 minutes.

Characteristics of lidocaine

Although it is a cocaine derivative, lidocaine anesthesia is not addictive and does not give the patient the euphoric effect of the drug.

Lidocaine, packaged in glass cartridges, contains a preservative called methylparaben, which is responsible for triggering allergic-type reactions that can manifest themselves in various ways, depending on the patient’s body’s reactivity.

Lidocaine is metabolized almost entirely in the liver, so if the patient has liver problems, he or she should inform the dentist before starting the procedure.

The most common side effects of lidocaine following overdose are: feeling hot or cold, nervousness, dizziness, drowsiness, drowsiness, hypotension or allergic reactions that appear on the skin in the form of itching or redness.

Lidocaine is not the only anesthetic used, but it is the most common, especially for smaller operations.


Chlorhexidine is an antiseptic, applied to decontaminate the surfaces of the oral cavity. It is used in the following cases:

  • Before operations on the oral cavity, with the aim of disinfecting the mucous membranes on which the operation is to be performed. By reducing the bacterial gradient in the area of interest, the risk of contamination and infection is reduced.

  • In cases of periodontitis, especially severe ones, chlorhexidine is an adjunct to hygiene maintenance therapy. Periodontal pockets formed between the bone and dental surfaces are true reservoirs of bacteria. Therefore, mechanical cleaning is not sufficient to decrease the bacterial concentration. In addition to mechanical therapy, there is often also drug therapy, consisting of antibiotics and antiseptics such as chlorhexidine.

  • Chlorhexidine is a real help in maintaining a clean operating field when cleaning wounds or during surgery.

Chlorhexidine can also be found in toothpaste but should be used with caution due to side effects.

For example, it can stain tooth surfaces brown, alter the taste sensation and may rarely cause flaking of the mucous membranes.

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