Dental Tips Blog


Unable to Get Numb

For most dental patients, local anesthetics like Novocain that numb the area where the procedure will be performed provide complete numbing and as a result, the patient experiences little or no pain during the dental procedure.  However, a small percentage of dental patients have difficulty getting numb or cannot get numb at all.  If you are one of these patients, don’t put off getting the dental care you need.  There are options available to address any situation and putting off dental care will only make matters worse.

One possible cause of this phenomenon is that some dentists simply have poor numbing technique.  Numbing a tooth is more than just injecting anesthetic next to the tooth.  It has to be done properly to be effective and some dentists are better at it than others.  Giving the right amount of anesthetic in the right place and waiting for it to work can help.

Also, in a small percentage of patients, the nerve connections and pathways are different from most other patients and the local anesthetic may not be effective until the dentist finds the right place to inject it.  Some dentists are adept at numbing patients with these types of anatomical variations. Others lack the necessary patience.

Anxiety can also cause the local anesthetic to be less effective.  Most patients have at least a little anxiety, but some patients are very anxious about their dental procedure.  Oral or intravenous sedation can help relax these patients and provide for a painless dental experience.

I all else fails, there are dentists who specialize in dentistry under general anesthesia.  This is called sleep dentistry, sedation dentistry, or hospital sleep dentistry because the procedures are performed in a hospital operating room.

If you have had trouble getting numb in the past, talk to your dentist before your procedure about the options available to you.

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