Everything you need to know about local anaesthetic

Dentistry (and medical science in general) has experienced the internet as a double edged sword. Although many things have become easier, the flood of information also brought with it a flood of misinformation as well. One of the topics that is most frequently misunderstood and regarded in a false light is anaesthesia, as it is scary, involves chemicals and has a very profound effect. But anaesthetic is nothing to be afraid of, and in this article I hope to clarify some of the issues around it.

What kind of anaesthetic do dentists use?

Dentists usually use local anaesthetic like Lidocain or Novocain. These cause the area they are sprayed on to become numb, and cause a lessened blood flow to the area as well. Very few dental practices perform procedures under general anaesthetic, or while the patient is “under”. This is because you need a specialist to do the putting under part, and these are expensive, have very complicated codes around them, and are sometimes a little bit difficult from a legal standpoint. All in all, the patient doesn’t need to be asleep for most procedures, as local anaesthetic makes dental treatments absolutely painless.

Will it hurt/ what will I feel?

You should be completely numb, and you should not feel anything aside from some pressure. If you feel any sort of sensations at all (itching, burning, some tickling, anything) you should tell your dentist, as they will have to use more of the substance to completely numb your teeth and gums. So the procedure should be completely painless, but there is an issue of noises. The drill does make a whirl that causes patients to tense up, and there may be some crackling and some strange noises when the procedure is under way, but this si normal.

I am breastfeeding and/or pregnant

Do not worry, local anaesthetic is not teratogenic, and is safe to use. There have not been many studies made as experimenting on human foetuses is quite understandably illegal, but there are no negative effects for encountering such substances once in a while. You should try and limit your dental procedures while you are expecting, but certain procedures (like fillings, root canals and extractions) actually need to be done for the safety of the baby, and these will be performed under local anaesthetic.

Allergic reactions

Allergic reactions to local anaesthetic are extremely rare, but do exist. If you have allergic reactions to other chemicals, you should mention that to your dentist. Before engaging in dental treatments you need to know what you are allergic to, in order to minimize risks.

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