Jones Smiles - September 2018

The History of Anesthesia From Coca Leaves to Cocaine

If you are heading into the Jones Smiles office for a filling, crown, extraction, or root canal, your dentist is going to use a special medicine called an anesthetic to numb your mouth. Dr. Jones or Dr. Copeland will place a cotton swab dipped in medicine in your mouth, rubbing it over the area they need to operate on. This medicine is called a local anesthetic, and it numbs the surface of your gums and mouth. This local anesthetic works to make the shot of the stronger anesthetic, known as lidocaine, less painful. Lidocaine plays a vital role in dental offices around the world, but the chemical compound was only discovered approximately 60 years ago. In the past, people utilized other interesting but less popular numbing agents. The first people with knowledge of local anesthetic, as far as historians know, were the inhabitants of Peru. For centuries, they chewed on coca leaves in order to achieve a numbing effect on the mucous membranes in the mouth. It was not until the second half of the 19th century that research into this compound was conducted in Europe. This led to the first eye operation under

local anesthesia in 1884. During this operation, the patient was not given coca leaves — he was given the drug we now know as cocaine! Following this first successful operation, cocaine was often administered as a local anesthetic in Europe. But before long, the disadvantages of using this drug became self-evident. In the early 1940s, Dr. Torsten Gordh, who was the first physician in Sweden to specialize in anesthesiology, found that lidocaine was more effective due to its long-lasting numbing effects compared to other local anesthetics of the time. He found it had a number of other advantages, including rapid onset, a lower risk of adverse effects, and stability when diluted and stored with epinephrine. So now when you come in for your appointment with one of our dentists, you’ll know exactly what they mean when they say they’re going to give you a shot of local anesthetic. If you have questions about the history of numbing agents or any of the anesthetics we use in our office, give us a call at 770-965-3048.





• 1 1/4 pound (2 bunches) Swiss chard, trimmed and halved crosswise • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil • 2 large shallots, peeled and chopped

• 2 carrots, peeled and chopped • 1 cup canned crushed tomatoes • 2 teaspoons sugar • Salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste


1. In a large skillet, heat olive oil to medium. 2. Once heated, add Swiss chard and sprinkle with carrots and shallots. Put canned tomatoes over chard, add sugar, and season with salt and pepper. 3. Add 1/2 cup water, bring to a simmer. 4. Partially cover skillet and cook until liquid is nearly evaporated, about 15–20 minutes. 5. Transfer to a large platter and serve. Inspired by Saveur magazine

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770-965-3048 • 3

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