The Facts About Dental Anesthesia

Do you ever wonder what it would be like to have a root canal or a cavity filled without anesthesia? Fortunately, with the resources we have available today, this is not something that we have to consider during our visits to the dentist. Despite the fact that anesthesia is ubiquitous in dental practices across the country, the average patient doesn’t know much about how it works or what kinds of options are available. We don’t question it—we just know that it gets the job done! If you have ever been curious about anesthesia and pain management at the dentist, Chapel Hill dentist Dr. James Furgurson would like to answer your questions and put your mind at ease.

There is no “one-size fits all” pain management strategy. There are several medications are available to create more relaxed and comfortable dental visits and specific personal factors such as overall health, age, allergies, and severity of treatment are all taken into consideration when determining which medication is right for you. A list of pain management treatments is described below:

  • Local anesthetic is usually the preferred method of pain management. Your dentist may apply a topical anesthetic to the affected area prior to using an injectable such as Lidocaine to block the nerves that transmit pain. This produces a numbing feeling in your mouth that can last for several hours.
  • Depending on the invasiveness of the procedure, your dentist may prescribe an analgesic for pain management once you leave the office. This analgesic may be non-narcotic such as Tylenol or Advil, or narcotic such as opioids for more severe pain. You and your dentist may also discuss sedation to avoid both pain and anxiety during treatment.
  • Sedation may be accomplished by inhalation (nitrous oxide), ingesting a pill, or intravenously. More complex procedures such as wisdom teeth extraction may require deeper sedation or general anesthesia that can cause a temporary loss of consciousness.

If you have any further questions about anesthesia or sedation or would like to discuss further pain management options, please don’t hesitate to ask Dr. Furgurson during your next visit!