What Do Dentists Use To Numb Your Mouth?

Author: Dr. Reem Kidess | Posted on with 0 comments

We get you. There are a lot of things to be scared about when visiting the dentist. Luckily, painless procedures are now made possible thanks to the numbing effects of anesthesia and sedation. 

To reduce a patient’s anxiety, dentists turn to sedatives or anesthesia. However, administering them can be a little scary too. Is it really possible for you to have a completely pain-free dental visit? Here’s what dentists use to numb your mouth from all those dental-related pains

what do dentist use to numb you0Anesthesia vs Sedation

In order to ease away a patient’s anxiety during a procedure, dentists can make their mouth numb through anesthesia or sedation. Choosing between these two depends on which level of consciousness the dentist would need the patient to be in, and if he needs a response from a patient during a procedure.

Anesthesia makes you numb by putting you in a completely unconscious state or making a part of your mouth completely numb. Sedation dentistry, however, would make a patient conscious, though very relaxed and just partly numb. 

There are three types of dental anesthesia:

Topical Anesthetic

This is administered by rubbing a numbing gel or jelly to the part that needs to be numb. Dentists would mostly use this first before injecting a local or general anesthesia to aid with the pain.

Local Anesthetic

Injected in the part of the mouth where numbness is needed, dentists use local anesthesia to deactivate the nerves. Lidocaine or articaine are the most common local anesthetic that dentists use, but there are a wide range of drugs for it. This type of anesthesia is recommended for procedures such as root canals, tooth extractions or fillings.

General Anesthesia

This is the highest level of anesthetics wherein patients will be totally unconscious. These are not commonly used in dental procedures unless the patient is extremely anxious and uncontrollable to undergo major dental procedure.

Sedation, on the other hand, also has three types depending on how they are administered.

what do dentists use to numb your mouthInhalation

A patient will be asked to inhale a gas called Nitrous Oxide, also known as “the laughing gas” through a mask. This will make them calm for a specific amount of time.

Oral Sedation

A dentist may also administer an oral drug to be taken by the patient at least an hour before the procedure. However, the effect of this is highly dependent on a patient’s level of immunity to the drug.

IV Sedation

This is the most common and recommended type of sedation. Sedative is administered through intravenous (IV), meaning by injecting it directly to a patient’s vein. Depending on the need of the patient, the level of sedative can be easily controlled by the dentist.

How long does the numbing last?

Different anesthetics also have different levels of strength. The dentist will determine the type of anesthetic that a patient needs. Although patients can also be given a choice about however they want it to be administered.

General anesthetics can get you unconscious and last for hours. Local anesthetics can wear off depending on the amount the dentist used. Typically, your tooth will be numb for about 1 to 2 hours during the procedure. Your lips and cheeks will stay numb longer, about 3 to 4 hours. This is usual for procedures like wisdom tooth extractions, fillings or root canals.

sedation dentistrySedation may not get you numb, but can get you feel relaxed and partially unaware of the procedure, making your body unresponsive to pain. 

Inhalation has the shortest effect period, while oral sedatives usually get you relaxed for about 1 to 2 hours. IV sedation can go somewhere between 1 to 6 hours depending on the amount of sedative the patient is given. This is why patients that will be receiving this needs to be accompanied by an able person when going home after a procedure.

Will there be complications?

Although local anesthesia is generally safe, it can have complications due to overdose and other unique cases. 

Overdose of anesthesia can have effects on the nervous system and cardiovascular system. Dizziness, anxiety or confusion can happen if a patient gets more than what is needed. There will also be an increase in heart rate and blood pressure for local anesthetic toxicity.

Anesthesia works in interrupting nerve signals in your body to minimize or shut down its response to pain. Sedatives slow down brain activity to make you less reactive to pain. Depending on the body’s response, some sedatives can give you headaches, nauseousness and low blood pressure. 

Keep in mind that complications may be dangerous, but this can only happen if the one administering it is unskilled or not qualified to do it. A seasoned anesthetist or anesthesiologist are usually called for to do the task.


Here at PV Smiles, we can assure that painless procedures are possible and are highly-recommended by no other than the expert herself, Dr. Reem Kidess. With our highly trained and friendly team waiting to assist you, you can guarantee that every dental visit will be a breeze. 

Let us help you get that perfect white smile. Contact us to reserve an appointment.

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