Whether you are going in for tooth extraction, root canal treatment, or dental filling, anesthesia is common in most dental procedures. Unfortunately, some people are anxious about this part of the procedure for different reasons. Many of them are uncomfortable at the thought of having their gums or cheeks pricked. Others wonder how long it will take for the numbness to wear off and generally what to expect when the dentist delivers the anesthetic. Whichever group you fall into, here are some of the top FAQs that can help put the anxiety to rest.
- Is it painful?
Only initially and it is more like a string. If your dentist goes in without numbing the injection site first, you may feel a little pain as the needle goes in. But since it is done in a matter of seconds, the pain will be over before you know it. To make the injection less painful, most dentists place a topical anesthetic using a cotton swab to numb the site first before pricking it. In this case, the pain level will be considerably low. The poking may annoy you a little bit but if you consider the alternative (not having the anesthesia at all), the initial discomfort is worth it.
- How long will my mouth be numb?
This depends on the individual and the amount of anesthesia administered. If the dental procedure required a high dosage of the anesthesia, it may take up to five hours for the numbness to wear off. If you have a fast metabolism, you are lucky because your system will flush out the anesthesia faster than those with a slower metabolism. The American Association of Nurse Anesthetists claims that even after the numbness goes away, the anesthesia can hang around in your system for up to 24 hours.
- What will I feel exactly?
The feeling of numbness is best described as a lack of sensation. The anesthesia basically affects the synapses in your nerves, blocking many sensations, one of which is pain. Your whole mouth will feel swollen especially on the cheek area. Depending on the area of treatment, you may be numb in your chin, nose, tongue, the roof of your mouth, and under your eye.
- Are there any side effects I should know about?
For the most part, dental anesthesia side effects are infrequent but they occur occasionally. One of the most common ones is being numb beyond the treatment area. After a dental procedure, some people feel a drop in their cheek muscles and under their eyelids. Luckily, this feeling will go away with the numbness. You may also find it hard to blink, suffer from nerve damage (if the needle hits a nerve directly), have a racing heartbeat, and develop a hematoma (blood-filled swelling). Don’t worry though because the nerve damage is extremely rare according to ASRA.
- What if I am allergic to the anesthesia?
Although rare, some people have an allergy to a local anesthetic. Novocaine was notorious for that no wonder it is no longer used in New York Rejuvenation Dentistry and many other dental clinics. Your doctor will go through your medical history to identify the best anesthetic for you. If you are using over-the-counter drugs, herbs, or vitamins, please talk to your dentist about it before he administers anesthetic. Some medicines and supplements have been known to interact with dental anesthetics.
- What can I do to ease the numbness?
Some people can’t bear the feeling of numbness for too long. If you fit the description, you’d be glad to know that there are a few things you can do to make the numbness wear off faster. This includes any activity that gets your heart rate up and pumping to aid in faster circulation. If you simply can’t handle the numbness, your dentist can give you a reversing agent for the local anesthetic. This dilates your blood vessels counteracting the effects of the anesthetic.
Hopefully, these answers have put you at ease a little. However, it is always a good idea to talk to your dentist prior to your dental procedure. Don’t hold anything back; ask them plenty of questions relating to the procedure. After all, it’s your body we are talking about here—you simply can’t gamble with it.