Definition and Properties of Local Anesthetics

Local anesthesia is the temporary loss of sensation or pain in one part of the body produced by a topically applied or injected agent without depressing the level of consciousness.1

Dental anesthetics fall into two groups: esters (procaine, benzocaine) and amides (lidocaine, mepivacaine, prilocaine and articaine). Esters are no longer used as injectable anesthetics; however, benzocaine is used as a topical anesthetic. Amides are the most commonly used injectable anesthetics with lidocaine also used as a topical anesthetic.