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So what is Dental Local Anesthesia all About?

Jul 21, 2008
Local anesthesia refers to the temporary loss of feeling in one part of the body. In this case we are referring to the dentist injecting a solution inside the mouth so that he or she can work on the patient more efficiently.

This is good for the patient and the dentist as this causes the patient to relax so the dentist can focus on his or her work.

- The Options:

Since the beginning of medicine there have been drugs that were used to make it easier for doctors to perform surgeries. So you can imagine that there is no shortage of anesthesia when it comes to the practice of dentistry. In fact it might surprise you to find out that there are many options available when a dentist is looking to make a dental procedure as painless as possible.

- Local Anesthesia:

This is by far the most common type of anesthesia used and this article focuses on this type of dental anesthesia. In simple terms, a local anesthesia is performed on a patient when a dentist will numb an area with a gel and then, once the numbness has set in, inject the general area that will be worked on. The numbing effect will take place after only three to six minutes and will last from three to four hours. This is certainly a type of anesthesia you may have experience more than once at the dentists office.

- Lidocaine:

The most common local anesthetic used is called lidocaine. Others might include mepivacaine, bupivacaine and prilocaine. All of the drugs will most likely end with a caine. Procaine, which is commonly known as novacaine is no longer used as the other drugs mentioned here are more effective as numbing agent.

The Other Drugs in a Local Anesthesia
The dentist will make a solution for the local anesthesia to be administered prior to the surgery. Some of the other drugs in the solution may contain an antioxidant to prevent a breakdown of the vasoconstrictor, sodium hydroxide to adjust the acidity of the anesthetic so it works more effectively, sodium chloride, to help the solution enter the bloodstream more effectively and sometimes epinephrine which also works to narrow blood vessels to help the anesthetic last longer.

- How is it administered?

There are two local anesthesia injections a dentist will use. There is something called an infiltration injection which numbs a small area and there is a block injection which numbs a larger region. All of the injections are done in the interior of the mouth.

- Side Effects:

Some of the side effects include a numb mouth, which is of course the point of the anesthetic in the first place but other effects include dizziness and the feeling that you have a fat or swollen lip. Other than that, side effects are very rare, which is part of the reason the local anesthetic is so popular in dental procedures.

One possible side effect is hematoma, which is a blood filled swelling that can form when the needle accidentally punctures a blood vessel. You may also feel numbness outside the targeted area and this may cause drooping in your eyelid or lips. The effects of drooping will disappear when the anesthesia wears off. Allergic reactions are also rare; however it is important to tell your doctor about any medication you are taking.

- In Conclusion:

Keep in mind that local anesthesia is a very safe procedure and your dentist probably has a great deal of experience administering it to his patients. Rest assured this is a very popular anesthetic for a very good reason.
About the Author
Seth Daugherty has a B.S. in Instructional Technology and is currently getting his masters degree in
library and information science. For more information on Local Dental Anesthesia go to Dental-Anesthesia.Com
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