Numbness: How Long does the Feeling Last?

Understanding How Numbing Work

Most people who’ve had dental procedures done that may involve pain or discomfort have used local anesthesia. Hence, Novocaine, a brand name for an injectable local anesthetic has been quite popular even for those who haven’t used it. However, its heyday was some 30 years ago and has since been replaced by Lidocaine. The classic drug Novocaine was observed to have some side effects, notably allergic reactions ranging from mild to serious. By the 1980s, nearly all dentists had stopped using Novocaine in the United States, and lidocaine became the most frequently used local anesthetic. The newer drug lasts longer, works better and less likely to cause allergic reactions.

How do these local anesthetics work?

They are numbing agents because they are primarily vasoconstrictors, narrowing your blood vessels so less blood flows to the site, creating a numbness. They also include chemicals to prevent the constriction from breaking down, making the numbness last longer. They also contain sodium hydroxide, which helps the numbing drug work, and sodium chloride, which helps the drug get into your blood.

How long does the numbing work?

That really depends on several factors. However, Lidocaine is reported to begin numbing a particular area in 90 seconds or so, and numbness can last for about 60 to 90 minutes or longer. Then again, that depends on any of the following conditions.

The dose. The higher the dose, the longer the numbing effect will last. The amount will in turn depend on the type of procedure to be done, the number of nerves involved, and size of the area to be treated. A root canal would require a higher dose than a simple filling procedure.

The individual. Numbing effects vary from person-to-person. Medical conditions can affect the breakdown of the drug, making it shorter-acting, or can prolong its effects because a medical condition could not metabolize Lidocaine. Some individuals have conditions that make them less sensitive to local anesthetics and so these people may require higher doses.
Presence of infection. The tooth to be worked on may be infected Anesthetics are less effective when used on an infected area. The infection causes the tissue to become more acidic, reducing the effectiveness of the drug during dental procedures. More Lidocaine is needed in these cases.

Educating You About Anesthetics in Lynnwood

Need to know more about the actions of local anesthesia, how it feels and what to expect next? If you think you need a dental procedure done, consult with your Lynnwood dentist right away.