What Is The Difference Between Anbesol And Orajel?

In our latest question and answer, the pharmacist discusses the difference between Anbesol and Orajel.

Question

Are Anbesol and Orajel the same thing? If not, what is the difference between the two?

Asked by toothpain On Sep 08, 2021

Answered by
Medical Content Reviewed By HelloPharmacist Staff

On Sep 08, 2021

Key points

  • Anbesol and Orajel are both brand names, each with several different available over-the-counter products that are used for the treatment of oral health problems.
  • Most Anbesol and Orajel products are similar, with the majority containing the topical anesthetic (numbing agent) benzocaine.
  • Orajel has a wider variety of products and formulations available when compared to Anbesol products.

Hello and thank you for your question!

There is very little difference between many Anbesol and Orajel products.

Anbesol and Orajel are both brand names, and you'll find both names on a variety of different products that help with oral health problems such as cold sores, toothaches, denture pain, and canker sores.  

In fact, many of Anbesol and Orajel products are essentially the same.

For example, Anbesol Maximum Strength Gel and Orajel Maximum Toothache and Oral Pain Relief both contain the same active ingredient, Benzocaine 20%, an oral anesthetic, that helps numb the applied area and provide pain relief.

Anbesol And Orajel Comparison

It is important to remember when making a comparison, is that Anbesol and Orajel products come in several different formulations.

The products differ mostly in the amount of Benzocaine they contain, ranging from 5% to 20%. However, there are some Anbesol products that contain different or additional ingredients.

Below is a tablet that compares all of the Anbesol and Orejal products:

Product Active Ingredient(s) Dosage Form
ANBESOL Gel Maximum StrengthBenzocaine 20% Gel
ANBESOL Liquid Maximum StrengthBenzocaine 20%
Liquid
ANBESOL Gel Regular StrengthBenzocaine 10%Gel
ANBESOL Liquid Regular Strength
Benzocaine 10%Liquid
Orajel Medicated For Toothache GelBenzocaine 10% Gel
Orajel Maximum Toothache & Oral Pain Relief Swabs Benzocaine 20% Topical Swabs
Orajel Toothache Strips Medicated for Toothache & GumBenzocaine 15mg; Menthol 2.5mgStrips
Orajel Toothache RinseBenzyl Alcohol 0.27%; Zinc Chloride 0.15%Rinse
Orajel Medicated For Toothache & Gum LiquidBenzocaine 20%: Menthol 0.1%Liquid
Orajel 3X Medicated For Toothache & Gum GelBenzocaine 20%; Menthol 0.26%;  Zinc Chloride 0.15%Gel
Orajel 4X Medicated For Toothache & Gum GelBenzocaine 20%; Menthol 0.5%; Zinc Chloride 0.15%; Benzalkonium Chloride 0.13%
Gel
Orajel PM 4X Medicated For Toothache & Gum PM CreamBenzocaine 20%; Menthol 0.26%; Zinc Chloride 0.15%; Benzalkonium Chloride 0.13%
(Also contains chamomile)
Cream
Orajel 4X Medicated For Toothache & Gum CreamBenzocaine 20%; Menthol 0.26%; Zinc Chloride 0.15%; Benzalkonium Chloride 0.13%Cream

The next section contains some information on the drug Benzocaine.

Benzocaine Information

Benzocaine is a local anesthetic, that can be used topically or orally for pain relief.  When found in products like Anbesol Maximum Strength Gel and Orajel Maximum Toothache and Oral Pain Relief Swabs, it is being used for oral pain.

Benzocaine is generally well tolerated with the following adverse reactions possible:

  • Localized burning/stinging sensation
  • Redness
  • Itching
  • Localized rash
  • Hypersensitivity reactions

A rare, but serious, reaction called methemoglobinemia is possible with the use of Benzocaine, especially in higher concentrations.  Should any of the following reactions occur, you should stop use immediately and seek immediate medical attention:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Pale colored skin
  • Shortness of breath
  • Confusion
  • Rapid heart rate

For this reason, the FDA does not recommend using Benzocaine in children under the age of 2. They are at an increased risk for the development of methemoglobinemia.  Non-Pharmacologic measures should be tried in teething children, such as massaging the gums or giving the child a cold, teething ring.

Final Words

In conclusion, most Anbesol and Orajel products contain the same active ingredient, Benzocaine. Individual products may differ slightly in the amount of benzocaine, or additional ingredients in the case of Anbesol products, they contain.

References

  • Benzocaine Monograph, PubChem
  • Anbesol Manufacturer Website, Anbesol
  • Orajel Manufacturer Website, Orajel

About the Pharmacist

Dr. Brian Staiger, PharmD

Dr. Brian has been practicing pharmacy for over 11 years and has wide-ranging experiences in many different areas of the profession. From retail, clinical and administrative responsibilities, he's your knowledgeable and go-to source for all your pharmacy and medication related questions!

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