How Do Dentists Numb Your Mouth?

Your dentist has a few options, including local and general anesthesia, to ensure you remain comfortable and pain-free throughout your dental treatment. Patients who are anxious about dental work can be given a sedative along with local anesthesia to calm any unease they may experience.

What is Local Anesthesia?

When your dentist talks about numbing your mouth, they are referring to local anesthesia, a class of anesthetics that impacts a limited area of your body. You’ve probably heard of novocaine? That’s a type of local anesthesia that was commonly used by dentists in the past. Today, your dentist is more likely to use lidocaine or articaine, because these anesthetics are more effective and less likely to cause an allergic reaction than novocaine.

Local anesthesia is administered via injection near the affected area of the mouth. Before the injection, a topical anesthetic is usually applied first to lessen any discomfort.

What is General Anesthesia?

In specific instances, a dentist may need to use general anesthesia, where a patient is deeply sedated and loses consciousness. General anesthesia is typically only used for complex procedures. However, it may also be appropriate for less complicated treatments with children, patients who are unable to control their movements or those with extreme anxiety or fear.

What is Conscious Sedation?

Conscious sedation does not numb your body but induces a feeling of calm relaxation. Nitrous oxide is one type of sedative dentists use to help patients with anxiety relax during their dental work. With conscious sedation, you remain awake and aware throughout the procedure, but it is important to note that patients are unable to respond to touch or speech when sedated in this manner.

Depending on the type of sedative, conscious sedation can be administered via inhalation, injection, or by mouth.

How Long Does the Numbness Last?

Local anesthesia can keep you numb for several hours. Tooth numbness typically lasts for an hour or two. Soft tissues such as your lips and tongue can remain numb for three to five hours after administration. Patients with a faster metabolism or those who can physically active after their procedures may find their numbness wears off sooner.

Dental Implants and Tooth Restoration

Dental implants are foundations for false or artificial teeth. A dentist typically installs an implant as the first step in tooth restoration surgery, which is performed to remedy gaps in the mouth where teeth have fallen out. Once the implant is fixed in place, the dentist can begin to craft the artificial teeth.

The Tooth Restoration Process

Step 1: Installing the Dental Implant
The dentist takes measurements to determine the dimensions, angle, and color of the implant. He or she then carefully sets an implant in the gap. The implant must fuse with the jaw bone and the surrounding tissues must completely heal before further work can be done. The infusion and tissue healing process typically takes between three to six months.

Step 2: Installing the Abutments
The dentist punctures a hole in the gum above the location of the dental implant to make way for an abutment, a metal cylinder that will hold the artificial tooth in place. The dentist fixes the abutment in the hole to set the stage for the artificial teeth to be installed.

Step 3: Installing the Artificial Tooth
The dentist takes an impression, or mold, of the patient’s teeth. The patient bites into a clump of putty to form the mold. The dentist analyzes the mold in the laboratory to ensure that the artificial tooth matches the patient’s natural teeth as closely as possible. The patient typically wears a temporary tooth crown on the abutment while the final tooth is being prepared. When the final tooth is ready, the dentist removes the crown and installs the tooth, ensuring a precise and comfortable fit.

Dental Implants and Dentures

Dental implants are also used to retain dentures. By holding the denture in place, the implant eliminates the need for the wearer to remove the denture nightly. The dentist can modify the denture to fit the shape and changes in the gum. Contact your dentist to learn about your options for tooth restoration and whether dental implants are right for you.

Why Having Regular Dental Exams Is Important

At Dentists of Hinsdale Lake in Willowbrook, Illinois, we recommend that our patients come in for regular dental checkups. Your appointment services might include a comprehensive exam, cleaning, X-rays, teeth whitening or any number of other services that we provide. […]