If the idea of needles in your mouth makes you squirm, you’re definitely not alone. Lidocaine, the more modern replacement for Novocaine, is the most popular dental anesthesia. The length of time that an area remains numb depends on several factors including the type of procedure, the amount of nerves that need to be numbed and of course you, the individual. That means a root canal will require more lidocaine than a filling, for example. Or if you’re someone with a condition called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, you may require more anesthetic than the average person in order to achieve the same effect, simply because the body is less sensitive to anesthetics.
Anxiety Makes It Harder to Get Numb
If you’re nervous, whether because of the needle or because of the upcoming treatment, you may have more difficulty getting numb. Being anxious makes you more sensitive to pain, and if you’re nervous, your body will process and relocate the anesthesia faster, too. So it can be harder for you to get numb.
Lidocaine Is Less Effective on Infected Teeth
One factor that may affect the effectiveness of anesthesia is the presence of an infection in the area of treatment. Anesthetic is less effective on an infected tooth because bacteria causes gum tissue to be more acidic. Since local anesthetics depend on pH levels to work successfully, an infection could inhibit its effectiveness. Therefore, your dentist will need to use more to achieve a successful effect.
Choose Your Level of Comfort with Sedation Dentistry
One way to get around the limitations of local anesthesia is sedation dentistry.
Sedation dentistry is sometimes referred to as “sleep dentistry” though this isn’t entirely accurate. Unlike general anesthesia, during which a patient is unconscious, sedation dentistry has many levels of consciousness. You can essentially choose the level of sedation—minimal, moderate, or deep—you would prefer to have during your procedure.
Minimal sedation is when you’re awake but relaxed, which can be an effective solution for patients with mild anxiety about a dental procedure. In the next level, patients may not remember much of their dental procedure and may slur their words under moderate sedation. In deep sedation, patients are on the edge of consciousness. They may be so relaxed that they may fall asleep during the procedure but can be awakened with a gentle rousing to wakefulness.
We offer oral sedation and IV sedation. If needles frighten you, oral sedation allows you to get past nervousness before seeing a needle.
Your dentist will still use a local anesthetic. While you are under your chosen comfort level of sedation it will be more effective.
That’s why sedation dentistry is a solution for patients who have difficulty responding to numbing techniques like Novacaine, and even for patients who simply fear the dentist.
If you think sedation dentistry might be the right solution for your dental treatment, we invite you to discuss it in person with the licensed, compassionate, and caring Summerlin dentist, Dr. James B. Polley. Please call (702) 873-0324 or email today to set up an appointment.