Going to the dentist is never anyone's favourite activity, and the thought of getting local anaesthesia can make many people uneasy. 

However, it is a crucial part of dental procedures that ensures you feel as comfortable as possible during your visit. 

While local anaesthesia typically has minimal side effects or complications, it’s important to understand what they are so you know what to expect before heading into your appointment. 

local anesthesia in dentistry

In this blog post, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about local anaesthesia in dentistry – from its types and applications to any potential risks involved with its use. 

So sit back, relax (as much as possible), and let’s dive into the world of dental anaesthetics!

What is Local Anesthesia in Dentistry? 

Local anesthesia is used for simpler treatments such as cavity fillings, which take less time and are generally less difficult.

When you have a local anaesthetic, you will be conscious and able to converse. You will not feel any discomfort because the region will be numb. 

The majority of local anaesthetics work fast (within 10 minutes) and last 30 to 60 minutes. To strengthen the anaesthetic's action and prevent it from spreading to other areas of the body, a vasopressor such as epinephrine is sometimes given to it. 

Local anaesthetics are accessible without a prescription and over the counter in gel, ointment, cream, spray, patch, liquid, and injectable forms.

They can be used topically (straight to the affected area to numb it).

Anesthesia is defined as the absence or loss of sensation. This can happen with or without awareness.

There are numerous options for dental anaesthetics available today. Medications can be taken alone or in combination for maximum efficacy. It is tailored to ensure a safe and successful treatment.

The sort of anaesthetics used is also determined by the person's age, health, the length of the treatment, and any previous bad reactions to anaesthetics. 

Depending on the anaesthetic, it works in a different way. When given directly to an area, anaesthetics can be short-acting or work for longer periods of time when more complex surgery is required.

The success of dental anaesthesia is determined by:

  • Individual considerations include the drug,
  • The area being anaesthetized,
  • And the method.

The timing of the surgery may also have an impact on dental anaesthesia. Inflammation can also have a deleterious impact on anaesthetic success. 

Furthermore, for local anaesthesia, teeth in the lower jaw (mandibular) part of the mouth are more difficult to anaesthetize than teeth in the upper jaw (maxillary).

Composition and Types of Local Anesthesia In Dentistry 

The majority of dental treatments are done under local anaesthesia. Local anaesthetics are extremely effective and safe in dental practice. 

Their use is so prevalent that bad consequences are extremely rare. 

This anaesthesia has the following ingredients: lignocaine (anaesthetic), adrenaline (vasoconstrictor), methylparaben (agent), sodium metabisulphite (fungicide), and water.

1. Lidocaine:

Lidocaine viscous topical solution is also used to treat painful mouths and throats, as well as to minimize choking during X-rays and dental impressions.

The skin patch containing lidocaine is used to treat nerve pain produced by herpes zoster or shingles (postherpetic neuralgia).

Lidocaine is a member of the class of drugs known as local anaesthetics. This medication relieves pain by inhibiting signals at epidermal nerve endings. 

When used for surgery, this medication does not render the patient unconscious, as do general anaesthetics.

2. Mepivacaine:

Mepivacaine stabilizes the neuronal membrane and blocks nerve impulse initiation and transmission, resulting in local anaesthesia. Mepivacaine is rapidly metabolized, with just a small fraction of the anaesthetic excreted intact in the urine (5 to 10%).

3. Articaine:

Articaine is a pain reliever. Articaine, like other local anaesthetics, induces a brief and entirely reversible state of anaesthesia (lack of sensation) during (dental) treatments. Articaine is primarily used in dentistry for infiltration injections.

4. Bupivacaine:

Bupivacaine injections are used to numb a specific part of your body before, during, or after surgery, other treatments, delivery, or dental work. This medication is also used to numb your shoulder for up to 72 hours after surgery. It is a type of local anaesthetic.

free smile assessment

How Local Anesthetics Work? 

Local anaesthetics work by temporarily blocking pain signals from the nerves to the brain. This prevents the patient from feeling pain during dental procedures. 

Local anaesthetics are available in different forms, including creams, gels, sprays, and injections. 

The type of local anaesthetic used will depend on the procedure being performed and the preference of the dentist or doctor.

Techniques for Administering Local Anesthetics 

Several techniques can be used to administer local anaesthetics in dentistry. The most common technique is infiltration, which involves injecting anaesthetic into the tissue around the tooth. 

This technique is typically used for teeth that are close to the surface of the gums. Another common technique is called intraligamentary injection, which involves injecting the anaesthetic into the ligament that attaches the tooth to the jawbone. 

This technique is typically used for teeth that are further below the surface of the gums. yet another common technique is called intramuscular injection, which involves injecting the anaesthetic into a muscle in the cheek or jaw. 

This technique is typically used for procedures that will require a more extended period of anaesthesia.

Common Side Effects of Local Anesthesia

The type of anaesthetic used determines the side effects of dental anaesthesia. The dangers of general anaesthesia are higher than those of local anaesthesia or sedation. Individual characteristics influence how people react.

Sedation and general anaesthesia drugs have been linked to the following negative effects:

  • Headache caused by nausea or vomiting.
  • Hallucinations, delirium, or disorientation caused by sweating or shivering.
  • Impaired speech, dry tongue, sore throat, and pain at the injection site.
  • Dizziness.
  • Tiredness.
  • Numbness.

Trauma from surgery causes lockjaw (trismus); the jaw opening is momentarily limited.

Vasoconstrictors in anaesthetics, such as epinephrine, can potentially induce heart and blood pressure difficulties.

These are some of the anaesthetic adverse effects that have been recorded. Inquire with your dental care team about your specific medicine and any concerns you may have regarding it.

Precautions to take when using Dental anaesthetics

There are several conditions and situations in which you and your doctor or dentist will decide whether dental anaesthesia is the best option for you.

Treatment consent is a critical component of the pretreatment dialogue. Inquire about the hazards and safety procedures that will be done to achieve a successful conclusion.


If you're pregnant, your dentist or surgeon will talk with you about the risks and advantages of anaesthetics for you and your baby.

Special requirements

Children and those with special needs necessitate a careful assessment of the type and level of anaesthetics required. To minimize bad reactions or overdose, children's doses may need to be adjusted.

The FDA has issued a warning regarding numbing medicines routinely used to relieve tooth pain. These products are not suitable for children under the age of two. Use these drugs only after consulting with a healthcare practitioner.

Children and adults with special needs may have additional medical issues that raise the dangers of anaesthetics. 

According to one study, children with cerebral palsy experienced the largest frequency of airway-related adverse responses to general anaesthesia.

Senior citizens

To guarantee their safety, older persons with specific health conditions may require dose changes and close monitoring during and after surgery.

Following surgery, some people may develop delirium, confusion, and memory issues.

Problems with the liver, kidneys, lungs, or heart

People with liver, kidney, lung, or heart disease may require dose changes since the medicine takes longer to exit the body and has a stronger effect.

Certain Neurological Disorders

There may be an increased risk of general anaesthesia if there is a history of stroke, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, thyroid disease, or mental disorder.

Side Effects Of Local Anesthesia In Dentistry

Local anaesthesia is an essential component of pain management in dentistry. However, like any medication, local anesthesia can cause side effects. 

While the side effects of local anaesthesia are usually mild and temporary, it is essential to be aware of them before undergoing a dental procedure.

1. Numbness: 

The most common side effect of local anesthesia is numbness in the area of injection. The numbness can last for several hours after the procedure. 

This can make it difficult to eat or drink until the numbness wears off completely.

2. Tingling Sensation: 

Another common side effect of local anesthesia is a tingling sensation in the mouth and lips. This is usually temporary and goes away once the anaesthetic wears off.

3. Allergic Reactions: 

In rare cases, local anesthesia can cause an allergic reaction. Symptoms of an allergic reaction may include hives, itching, difficulty breathing, and swelling of the face and mouth. 

If you experience any of these symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.

4. Nausea: 

Some patients may experience nausea and vomiting after the dental procedure. This is usually due to the anaesthesia's effects on the central nervous system and is a temporary side effect.

5. Dizziness: 

Dizziness is another temporary side effect of local anaesthesia. Patients may feel lightheaded or dizzy after the dental procedure due to the medication's effects on the central nervous system.

6. Headaches: 

Some patients may experience headaches after the dental procedure. This is a temporary side effect and can be relieved with over-the-counter pain medication.

7. Tissue Damage: 

In rare cases, local anaesthesia can cause tissue damage, such as nerve damage or tissue necrosis. 

This can happen if the anaesthetic is injected into a blood vessel, causing the blood supply to the tissue to be cut off. 

It is essential to seek medical attention if you experience any unusual pain, swelling, or discolouration in the area of injection.

Minimizing Risks and Managing Complications

Most people have no adverse responses to local anaesthesia. Sedation and general anaesthesia carry more hazards, particularly in elderly people and those with serious health issues.

There is also an elevated risk if you have a history of bleeding disorders or are using medications that enhance your risk of bleeding, such as aspirin.

If you are using pain medications such as opioids or gabapentin, or anxiety medications like benzodiazepines, inform your dentist or surgeon so that your anaesthetic can be adjusted correctly.

Benefits and Risks of Local Anesthesia in Dentistry

  • The use of local anaesthesia in dentistry comes with a variety of potential benefits and risks. 
  • Benefits may include reducing or eliminating pain during dental procedures, as well as reducing stress and anxiety levels. 
  • Risks may include minor complications such as bruising, swelling, or soreness at the injection site. 
  • In rare cases, more serious complications such as allergic reactions or nerve damage can occur. 
  • It is important to discuss the potential benefits and risks of local anaesthesia with your dentist before having any dental work done.


Local anaesthesia is a safe and effective method of pain management in dentistry. However, like any medication, it can cause side effects. 

It is essential to be aware of these side effects and to inform your dentist if you experience any unusual symptoms after the dental procedure. 

Your dentist can provide you with information on how to manage any side effects and ensure your comfort and safety during the procedure.

free smile assessment