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13 Mar 2020

3 questions and answers about dental anesthesia

Dental anesthesia is essential to carry out certain dental treatments and without it, some procedures would be too painful for the patient.

So, as with other medical specialties, depending on the type of intervention, your dentist will administer anesthesia to numb the area of ​​the mouth and thus be able to carry out the intervention comfortably and painlessly.

Your dentist may even decide to use dental anesthesia as a mechanism to help relax the patient on those occasions when he feels too nervous to face the situation. And it is that, there are many people who are afraid to go to the dentist or who simply face any surgical treatment with more anxiety than necessary.

What types of dental anesthesia exist?

There are different types of dental anesthesia and your specialist will decide to use one or the other depending on the type of pathology to be treated and the medical procedure to be followed. One of the most common is local anesthesia. It is also common to apply anesthetic gels, creams or sprays that are used to numb the area in which an intervention is to be carried out. For milder cases, sedation using nitrous oxide and oxygen is often used. A technique, which is applied through a mask and that allows the patient to remain in a state of semi-consciousness for the duration of the treatment.

As for general anesthesia, it is the only one that is not carried out in the dentist’s office, but rather, as in the case of other medical specialties, its use is reserved for the hospital environment. In the case of dentistry, general anesthesia will be used to treat surgical procedures such as the extraction of wisdom teeth or the placement of dental implants.

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How long does dental anesthesia last?

The duration of dental anesthesia works similarly to that of any other type of anesthetic. That is, if it is local, the affected area or tooth will be numb and insensitive for approximately 2 or 3 hours. In the case of less focused anesthesia, other areas such as the lips or tongue may also be numb. In these cases the sensation will last between 3 to 5 hours. In both cases, we will recover sensitivity as the blood flow eliminates the anesthetic from our body. It is a gradual procedure that patients are hardly aware of.

While this sensation lasts, the patient will manifest difficulties in speaking, eating and drinking in the usual way, for this reason it is important to be careful since, inadvertently, we can cause a bite and wound that we will not be aware of until the anesthesia has disappeared.

Does it have side effects?

As with any other treatment or medication, patients receiving dental anesthesia may experience certain side effects. These are rare and exceptional situations, however it is better to be aware that these may appear eventually.

Bruises and more or less intense pain in the treated area are one of the most frequent effects reported by most patients. Also, some may notice changes in the sensitivity of their eyelids. Others have reported noticing an acceleration of the heart rate that corresponds to an arrhythmia. Finally, although it is much less frequent, it is possible that the anesthesia causes some type of allergic reaction.

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    Dra. Paloma Alloza Lafuente

    Dr. Paloma Alloza Lafuente is a specialist in Anesthesia and Sedation at the University of Barcelona. After more than 35 years of experience in the world of Dentistry, Dr. Paloma Alloza stands out as a renowned figure within the specialty of anesthesia.

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