Reasons the Dentist May Numb Your Mouth

Visit your dentist for a procedure and he or she might numb your mouth.  The primary purpose of applying the numbing agent is to minimize your pain during the procedure.  This special medicine is referred to as anesthetics. It numbs the mouth when the dentist removes cavities, takes out a tooth or performs another form of oral surgery.

Numbing the Mouth

Dentists tend to err on the side of caution when handling patient pain.  The last thing the dentist wants is for the patient to feel uncomfortable during the procedure.  The mouth is numbed by rubbing a cotton swab in the area to be operated on. This form of numbing is referred to as a topical anesthetic.  Its purpose is to numb the surface of the mouth as well as the gums to prevent pain.

If necessary, the dentist will use an even more powerful numbing agent.  This potent numbing agent will essentially put the mouth to sleep. The shot only slightly stings due to the fact that the dentist initially applied medicine with the cotton swab.  This powerful numbing agent is often referred to as Lidocaine or Novocaine. The medicine is injected right into the mouth with a small needle. It will only take a couple minutes for the mouth to feel tingly and subsequently numb.  

You might feel as though your lip is fat when the doctor numbs it.  This is nothing to panic about. The lip does not actually fatten up or swell.  The sensation will dissipate in due time. Though plenty of people refer to this potent numbing agent as Novocaine, no one actually uses Novocaine for local anesthesia these days. Some patients are allergic to Novocaine so the majority of dentists in the United States use Lidocaine or Articaine.

Does Numbing the Mouth Always Work?

Unfortunately, anesthetics are not always completely effective.  According to the Journal of American Dental Association, Articaine is nearly four times as likely to numb the mouth than Lidocaine.  If you find it difficult to get numb, request that the dentist uses Articaine. If the tooth in question is infected, the anesthetic is less likely to mitigate pain.  Infected tooth nerves are especially challenging to numb. The dentist certainly has some techniques available to numb such a tooth yet it might require several injections.  So do not panic if the dentist applies several injections. The only reason to add so many injections is to enhance your comfort.

Are There Any Potential Side Effects and Concerns?

The typical local anesthetic lasts upwards of several hours.  You might find it difficult to eat or speak clearly following the application of the anesthetic.  It will likely be especially challenging to drink from a straw. Do your best not to bite down on the numb portion of your mouth as you might hurt yourself.  There is the potential for some side effects such as a hematoma and numbness outside of the targeted area yet these reactions are rare.

Please call Cameron Station Dental Care today at (703) 651-1949!

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