What You Need to Know About Dental Anesthesia

Dental anesthesia is a routine part of quite a number of regular dental procedures nowadays. However many people don’t really understand it much, which makes them feel apprehensive about it.

To be perfectly honest, there is nothing scary about dental anesthesia. Overall it is very safe, and will help ensure your procedures are carried out without any issues.

Types of Dental Anesthesia

In general there are a few common types of dental anesthesia that are used, and each is unique in its own way:

  • Topical anesthetic is sometimes referred to as numbing gel, and will make the area that it is applied to feel numb. It is normally used to remove sensation from the surface of the mucosa, gums, or cheeks – but does not penetrate deep into the tissue.

Often this type of anesthetic is used as a precursor to an injection.

  • Local anesthetic is an injected anesthetic that can numb a specific area and penetrate much deeper than topical anesthetics. It typically uses a thin needle and is almost painless, but in some cases a topical anesthetic may be used to avoid pain completely.

The use of local anesthetic is key for many invasive dental procedures including tooth extractions, root canals, fillings, and so on. While there are several types of local anesthesia that are used, the most common is lidocaine.

  • Sedation is normally only ever used in cases where anxiety issues prevent the patient from being able to keep calm. Most forms of sedation such as laughing gas (nitrous oxide), oral sedation and moderate IV sedation won’t fully knock out the patient, but will keep them sedate.

The exception to that rule would be deep sedation or general anesthesia – both of which are normally only used in severe cases.

For the most part you’re probably only likely to need local or topical anesthesia. The use of sedation of any type is rare.

“Are There Side Effects?”

Frankly speaking there are some side effects of using dental anesthesia, but they are normally not that common or severe. Some of the side effects are:

  • Numbness that spreads beyond the affected area a little, causing muscles to relax and droop.
  • Inability to blink one eye until the anesthesia fades, in which case your eye may need to be taped shut to prevent it from drying out.
  • Increased heart rate for a few minutes that will require you to notify your dentist.
  • Blood-filled swelling (hematoma) if the needle happens to hit a blood vessel when injected.
  • Nerve damage due to the needle directly hitting a nerve, which is very uncommon and rarely happens.

The majority of patients that go through procedures with dental anesthesia will not encounter any of these side effects. That being said you should ask your dentist questions about the anesthetic dental treatment so that you can clear up any worries you may have.

All said and done the use of anesthesia will definitely make your dental procedure smoother and you will probably appreciate it by the time it is over.