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How Does Local Anesthetic Work? What Are Side Effects?

A lot of people think that general dentistry treatment is usually done without sedation. But, the reality is that many dental procedures require the use of a local anesthetic to block pain when the doctor performs the treatment. If you want to know how it actually works and what side effects you can expect from being under local anesthesia, read on.

How Does It Work?

Medication used as a local anesthetic numbs the nerves in the area that will be subjected to treatment. It blocks the signals the nerve would normally send to the brain so that you don’t feel any pain. Local anesthetic can be administered topically in the form of a gel or injected directly into the treatment area. The latter is mostly used in dentistry, as the doctor aims to target the nerve directly.

As time passes, the medication is processed by the blood in the area, being gradually broken down or eliminated. The effects of local anesthesia in dentistry usually fade away after a few hours. 

What to Expect During the Procedure

Before you undergo certain dental treatments, like a tooth extraction or a root canal, the dentist will numb the area. Before proceeding, they will make sure the site is completely numb before starting.

You will not lose consciousness, but you won’t feel the pain when the dentist works on your tooth or gums. However, you may still feel pressure or movement. 

After Getting Local Anesthetic

After a procedure needing local anesthesia, it’s recommended to take a rest and not do any strenuous activities. This helps you metabolize the anesthetic more slowly and not have it fade away too soon after the treatment. You will get a prescription for painkillers for the period following the anesthetic’s effect when the pain comes back. 

Side Effects of Local Anesthesia

One of the side effects of local anesthetics is accidental injuries caused by the numbness. In other words, you could potentially bite your tongue, lips, or the inside of your cheeks without realizing it, causing potentially serious injuries. This aspect should be taken into account especially when it comes to children, as they can be more unaware of this.

Other side effects that you might experience include:

  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Blurred vision
  • Twitching muscles 

The vast majority of the side effects are minor and harmless, but it helps to get some rest after any procedure involving local anesthesia. 

Get a Beautiful Smile with Smillie Dental

If you have any questions about local anesthetics used in dentistry, or the procedures where they might be needed, don’t hesitate to contact Dr. Joseph Smillie or Dr. Helen Smillie at Smillie Dental

We can book an appointment for you and invite you for a check-up, where we will discuss the best treatment plan for your dental problems or concerns.

Get in touch with us now.

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