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Dentist in Bellevue applying Local Anesthetic on the patient.

Local Anesthesia For Dental Problems

Untreated dental problems can result in serious complications. When a tooth becomes infected, failure to visit a dentist can cause the bacteria to spread. Failure to attend to cavities can weaken teeth, which leads to breakage, cracks, and chips. As per studies published in the US national library of medicine, up to 30% of patients experience anxiety when they visit a dentist.

Some patients may find that dental local anesthesia is the ideal solution for them. This type of anesthetics is different from sedation dentistry. It is generally used in cases where the patient does not have severe anxiety. The area where the procedure is performed will be numbed with the local anesthetic.

How Does Local Anesthetics work?

The main idea of using anesthetics is to reduce sensations while keeping the individual conscious. It is not the same as sedation. There are different types of anesthesia used in a dental setting. The patient should understand what type of anesthetics will be used when they attend an appointment. This ensures the patient knows what to expect.

Local anesthetics are used in dentistry for simple procedures. It is not the same as general anesthesia, as the patient remains conscious throughout the entire procedure. This ensures the patient is able to cooperate with instructions from the dentist.

If the patient needs a solution to help them feel relaxed, IV sedation or oral sedation may be used instead. The patient does not feel oral pain when either block injections or infiltration injections are used.

Most Common Numbing Agents Used For A Local Anesthetic

Novocain, also known as procaine, used to be the most popular option among dentists. Recently, however, the use of Lidocaine has become relatively common too. One of the reasons Lidocaine is often used in dental procedures is that it tends to last somewhat longer. The anesthetic is also considered to work better at numbing a specific area where the procedures need to be implemented. An injection is used instead of IV sedation or gas.

In addition to considering the agent itself, there are two types of numbing injections. The specific option used in dentistry depends on the procedures. An infiltration injection is used when only a small area of the patient’s oral cavity needs to be numbed. The area directly surrounding the site of the injection becomes numb. Block injects are an alternative. These are used when a bigger area of the mouth needs to be numbed.

Common side effects of dental local anesthesia

It is extremely rare to hear reports of patients experiencing local anesthetics IV or gas side effects in Bellevue, WA. Side effects are more commonly reported with certain types of sedation. For example, some patients experience headaches when they are given nitrous oxide during sedation.

In terms of local anesthetics, experienced dentists such as Dr. Uparika Sharma  are cautious to ensure a blood vessel or nerve is not affected by the sedation injection. This is important because if a blood vessel is impacted, the person risks developing a hematoma; the same goes for nerves during sedation.

Another rare side effect of sedation is an increase in the patient’s heart rate. This can occur since the medicine used in local anesthesia is a type of vasoconstrictor. In some patients, numbness that affects areas outside the region where the injection was made has been reported. This is not considered a dangerous side effect.

If this happens, most patients find that the side effect resolves within a couple of hours. It can, however, still be discomforting, as a large part of the patient’s face may feel numb. The person may not be able to smile normally. It should not harm their health, however.

Find Out More About Local Dental Anesthesia

Patients who would like to learn more about how local anesthesia medications are welcome to contact our Bellevue dentist’s office to schedule an appointment. Our Bellevue Azalea Dentistry offers a wide range of oral and dental health services.


About the Author
Dr. Uparika Sharma is the founder dentist of Bellevue Azalea Dentistry. In addition to general dental procedures, she evaluates TMJ, cervical spine, airway problems, chronic headache, and CRPS.


Dr. Uparika Sharma is a trusted dentist. She has been practicing for over 5 years at Bellevue Azalea Dentistry clinic. She holds a Doctor of Dental Surgery (D.D.S.) degree from the University of Washington. Dr. Uparika Sharma is a member of the American Dental Association.