What You Need to Know About Dental Anesthesia

Are you scheduled for a dental procedure and have questions about anesthesia?

Around 10 to 30 percentTrusted Source of people have anxiety and concerns about pain with dental procedures. Anxiety can delay getting treatment and that can make the problem worse.

Anesthetics have been around for over 175 years! In fact, the first recorded procedure with an anesthetic was done in 1846 using ether.

We’ve come a long way since then, and anesthetics are an important tool in helping patients feel comfortable during dental procedures.

With lots of different options available, anesthesia can be confusing. We break it down so you’ll feel more confident before your next dental appointment.

What are the types of dental anesthetics?
Anesthesia means a lack or loss of sensation. This can be with or without consciousness.

Today there are many options available for dental anesthetics. Medications can be used alone or combined for better effect. It’s individualized for a safe and successful procedure.

The type of anesthetics used also depends on the age of the person, health condition, length of the procedure, and any negative reactions to anesthetics in the past.

Anesthetics work in different ways depending on what’s used. Anesthetics can be short-acting when applied directly to an area or work for longer times when more involved surgery is required.

  • The success of dental anesthesia depends on:
  • the area being anesthetized
  • the procedure
  • individual factors
  • Other things that may effect dental anesthesia include the timing of the procedure. ResearchTrusted Source also shows that inflammation can have a negative impact on the success of anesthetics.

Also, for local anesthesia, teeth in the lower jaw (mandibular) section of the mouth are harder to anesthetize than the upper jaw (maxillary) teeth.

There are three main types of anesthesia: local, sedation, and general. Each has specific uses. These can also be combined with other medications.

Local anesthesia
Local anesthesia is used for simpler procedures like a cavity filling, which requires a shorter time to complete and is generally less complicated.

You will be conscious and able to communicate when you get a local anesthetic. The area will be numb, so you won’t feel pain.

Most local anesthetics take effect quickly (within 10 minutes) and last 30 to 60 minutes. Sometimes a vasopressor such as epinephrine is added to the anesthetic to increase its effect and to keep the anesthetic effect from spreading to other areas of the body.

Local anesthetics are available over the counter and as a prescription in gel, ointment, cream, spray, patch, liquid, and injectable forms.

They can be used topically (applied directly to the affected area to numb) or injected into the area to be treated. Sometimes, light sedation is added to local anesthetics to help relax a person.

The takeaway
Anxiety related to dental procedures is common but can complicate treatment. It’s important to discuss all your concerns about the procedure and your expectations with your dental care team before.

Ask questions about the medications that will be used and what you can expect during and after treatment.

Share your medical history, including any allergies and other medications you’re taking. Be sure this includes over-the-counter drugs, prescriptions, and supplements.

Ask about any special instructions you need to follow before and after the procedure. This includes food and drink before and after treatment.

Ask if you need to arrange for transportation after the procedure and any other information you need to know.

Your dental provider will give you instructions to follow before and after the procedure. They’ll also provide a way for you to contact them in case you have any complications or questions.

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