At some point, most of us will be numbed in the dentist chair. It can be an uncomfortable feeling, but generally much more comfortable than having dental work done without it. Known as local anesthesia, it is designed to dull pain in all or specific spots in the mouth during dental work, but it will not cause the patient to fall asleep. The most common use for local anesthetic is for restorations including cavities, decay and root canals.
How does local anesthetic work?
To numb the area, your dentist can inject a local anesthetic, or nerve block, directly in the area needed for small localized numbing. The most common form of local anesthetic used is called lidocaine.
In the past, most dentists used novocain, but with advancements in dentistry, other forms of local anesthetics were found to last longer, numb better, and have less problems with allergic reactions. Lidocaine is used in combination with other drugs that assist in narrowing your blood vessels and to extend the effects of numbing.
Once the numbing has taken effect, it will last several hours. Following your procedure, your dentist will remind you to be aware of the numbing until it wears off. You may find it difficult to talk and will need to be aware of hazards when eating or drinking until the numbing effects are gone.
There are some possible problems that are associated with local anesthesia including:
• Causing injury to soft tissues from biting while numb.
• A small blood hematoma at the injection site. This should go away within a couple of days, if not, contact your dentist.
• An allergic reaction, this is uncommon, but can be exasperated due to medications that are being taken. Be sure to let your dentist know of all medications, even if you assume it to be unrelated.
Please contact us if you have any questions about anesthesia; and your oral health.