Anesthesia is administrated before a dental procedure to decrease the level of pain in a specific area of the mouth, by blocking the nerves that transmit pain. Anesthesia numbs mouth tissues. The most used is local anesthesia, which means that the dentist will numb only a part of your mouth during dental work, by injecting medicine into your gum or inner cheek. This means you won’t go to sleep. Injectable anesthetics are used in procedures such as filling cavities, preparing teeth for crowns, root canals or treating gum disease.
Nowadays there are several medications available that make your dental visits more comfortable. Some drugs control pain, others help you relax, and other put you into a deep sleep during your dental treatment (general anesthesia). From time to time patients may be recommended general anesthesia in certain procedures more complicated (wisdom teeth extraction for example).
The first use of local dental anesthesia was discovered in 1884. An injection of cocaine was given to a patient for a root canal. In 1905 Procaine (Novocaine) was introduced and then all the local anesthetics. In recent years newer local anesthetics have been used instead of Novocaine, including Lidocaine, Articaine, Carbocaine, Septacaine.
For anxious or nervous patients, your dentist may use moderate sedation for you. Sedation methods include inhalation (using nitrous oxide), that can be administrated during dental procedures.
The type and dose of anesthesia depends upon a lot of factors: the patient’s age, the type of your dental treatment, your overall health, history of allergies or your anxiety level.
After local anesthesia, numbness is a common side effect. It may last up to five hours after leaving the dental office, depending on the amount of local anesthesia used by your dentist. After your visit to your dentist, you may find it difficult to speak clearly or eat. Please be aware not to bite down on the numb area. You could hurt yourself without realizing it.
Side effects for local anesthesia are very rare. One possible side effect is hematoma (a blood-filed swelling). Most side effects are not caused by the local anesthetic, but by the anxiety associated to the injection. The most common reaction is fainting, followed by anxiety attack.
As a conclusion, your dentist will recommend you local anesthesia depend on the dental procedure you need. You do not have to be afraid because you won’t feel anything during the treatment, your mouth being numbed. For any issues related to local anesthesia, do not hesitate to call Dr. Arhri.