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Dental Anesthesia: Types, Effects and Uses

Dental Anesthesia: Types, Effects, and Uses


So, what is dental anesthesia? In short, it is a medication that creates a numbing effect and prevents pain or discomfort during dental procedures.


Dental anesthesia is a crucial aspect of modern dentistry; it allows patients to receive the treatment they need without having to withstand discomfort or pain. In turn, this makes the treatment a more positive and relaxing experience for both patients and providers alike.


The two types of dental anesthetics that are most commonly used in a practice setting are topical and injectable. Topical anesthetic is applied to the surface of the gums to provide a mild numbing, while injectable anesthetic is injected directly into the tissue of the cheek or gums to provide a strong, long-lasting numbing effect. 


Within this article, we will discuss the different types of local anesthesia, covering their uses and related effects.


Types of Dental Anesthesia

So, what type of anesthesia is used for dental work? Let’s take a closer look.


As previously discussed, there are two common types of anesthesia used by dentists: topical and injectable. Read on to learn more about these two types of dental anesthesia for dental work.


Topical Anesthetics

Topical anesthetic is commonly referred to as “numbing gel”, as it will gently anesthetize the area in which it is placed. Topical anesthetic typically comes in gel form, though it is also available in sprays. Active ingredients benzocaine and lidocaine ensure a comfortable and effective numbing effect.


Topical numbing products are available in a wide range of flavors such as mint, bubblegum, strawberry, pina colada, and more. Many patients enjoy having the ability to choose their flavor (especially children).


This type of dental anesthetic is typically used to prepare and numb the area prior to local injection. Many patients testify that the pain of a local injection is quite frightening, and can be a major deterrent against pursuing treatment for many people. Thankfully, topical anesthetics make it possible to ease or eliminate the pain that patients may feel when receiving an intraoral injection.


Topical anesthetics may also be used to provide fast-acting and temporary comfort for the patient without the need for administering injectable anesthesia. This can be useful for providing relief for:

  • Mouth sores
  • Relieving pain or discomfort while taking intraoral radiographs
  • Toothaches
  • Teething


Injectible Anesthetics 

Injectable anesthetic, as the name suggests, is injected directly into the tissue to completely numb the area. A capsule of anesthetic solution is loaded into an aspirating syringe, which allows precise, controlled, and effective administration. 


Safco Dental Supply offers a range of disposable needles and needle-stick protection products to keep your practice well-stocked and safe for both employees and patients alike.


There are two types of anesthetic injections:

  • Block Injections: Used to anesthetize one single precise location or tooth. 
  • Infiltration Injections: Used to anesthetize multiple teeth within one quadrant.


Lidocaine and novocaine are two of the most commonly used types of injectable dental anesthetics. Some other popular types of injectable anesthetics include:


The type of injectable anesthetic you use will depend largely on your preferences and needs as the provider, as well as your patient’s individual health requirements. 


Effects of Dental Anesthesia

When undergoing a dental procedure that calls for the use of an anesthetic, most patients will have the same questions for their dental provider: “How long does dental anesthesia take to wear off?” and “Will I experience any side effects?


Of course, the intended effect of dental anesthesia is an effective numbing sensation that prevents the patient from feeling discomfort or pain during their procedure. Patients may also experience:

  • Difficulty speaking
  • Difficulty drinking or eating
  • Increased saliva production


Patients can typically expect the numbness to subside after a few hours, though the exact duration of the numbing effect may vary depending on the specific type of anesthetic that was used. 


Uses of Dental Anesthesia

Dental anesthesia is typically used during invasive dental procedures that would otherwise cause the patient to experience some level of pain or discomfort. 


Some examples of dental procedures which typically require the use of anesthesia include:

  • Dental fillings
  • Root canals
  • Crown and bridge preparations
  • Tooth extractions
  • Wisdom teeth removal
  • Gingivitis/Periodontitis treatment


Dental anesthesia complications are very rare, but knowing how to properly identify adverse side effects or allergic reactions to anesthesia can help you ensure your patients’ safety. 


Below are some adverse side effects of dental anesthesia that may be experienced in some cases:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Hematoma
  • Redness or swelling at the injection site
  • Continued numbness
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Hematoma


Some patients may at first be daunted by the possibility of side effects. It’s best to explain to them that while they are a possibility, they are quite rare.


Taking time to get a detailed review of your patient’s medical history prior to beginning any type of treatment can be beneficial in avoiding adverse side effects. Of course, some patients may not have had any type of dental anesthetic before and will not know if they are prone to side effects; in this case, it’s best to keep a close eye throughout the duration of the procedure.


If life-threatening complications – such as anaphylaxis – are presented, ensure that your patient is immediately transferred to the hospital and consult with their doctor(s).


How Safco Dental Supply Keeps Your Dental Practice Going

As you have learned here, dental anesthetics are an essential part of modern dentistry. Depending on your preferences as a provider and your patients’ needs, you may want to keep a few different types of anesthetics on hand in your practice.


For high-quality dental products, place your trust in Safco Dental Supply. We provide a wide range of products to fit every need, with free shipping on orders over $250. Within that wide range of products, we offer various different types of local anesthetics for use in a clinical setting.


We strive to get you your products as fast as possible. All orders placed before 4:30 pm CST (3:30 pm on Friday) are shipped out same-day.


Give us a call at 800.621.2178 to speak with one of our experts.

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