It’s a fact of life: we all need to visit the dentist on a regular basis in order to maintain good oral health. In fact, healthy teeth and gums are important to our overall health as well, so regular oral exams and professional cleanings are something we should all have done at least twice a year. Most of us need some form of anesthesia when undergoing any type of dental procedure.
Typically, that consists of a few shots of novocaine inside the mouth to numb the area that will be worked on by the dentist. This local anesthesia, which is actually procaine hydrocholoride, is the most common type of local anesthesia used by dentists. The vast majority of people don’t experience any unusual side effects from the anesthesia used during routine dental procedures, but a few of us do. What follows is a list of the possible side effects of novocaine.
- Numbness in your mouth — This is one side effect that we all want! It’s most typical to experience this feeling after one or more shots of novocaine. That’s the whole purpose of the local anesthetic, after all – to numb the area of your mouth where your dentist will be working. Many people also experience some numbness or tingling in and around the cheek or eye area, which may cause a slight drooping on the affected side of the face. But these side effects are temporary and quickly wear off after a short period of time.
- Inability to blink – Some people are unable to blink one eye after receiving a dose of novocaine, which is a side effect that is especially common after receiving a shot in the upper gums. If you experience this, your dentist can use a special type of painless tape to tape your eye shut during the procedure. This helps to keep your eye from drying out.
• Increased heartbeat – Some people notice that their heartbeat becomes more rapid after a few shots of novocaine, which is caused by the vasoconstrictor element in the drug. Typically, this goes away within a minute or so, but be sure to tell your dentist if you experience this even for a short period of time.
- Hematoma – If your dentist’s needle hits a blood vessel, you might experience a hematoma, which is a small swollen area of the gum filled with blood. This is usually harmless and goes away on its own after a period of time.
- Extended numbness and/or pain – In very rare circumstances, a patient may feel numbness and/or pain that lasts for weeks or even months. This can happen as a result of nerve damage after an injection that directly hits a nerve. It sounds frightening, but remember that your dentist is a trained professional who is accustomed to giving thousands of novocaine shots each year, so never damage that comes as a result of a novocaine shot is extremely rare.
- Swelling, hives, breathing difficulties, dizziness, nausea, closing of throat – These side effects are also quite rare and indicate that the patient is allergic to the drug.
Fortunately, your dentist is there to witness this type of reaction should it occur, and to make sure you receive immediate medical treatment if that should happen.
Remember that the most common side effect of novocaine is the one we all WANT to experience: numbness in our mouths around the site where a dental procedure will be performed. But if you experience any other less common side effects, tell your dentist right away.