The Joys of Novocaine!

Young female dentist giving anesthesia to the patient before dental surgery.

Long the standard in local anesthesia for dentistry, Novocaine helps patients undergo procedures that otherwise might be impossible due to pain. The aftereffects, however, are seldom appreciated. The drooling, slurred speech and numbness are legendary and the source of many stories that are funny for friends and family, but seldom the patient.

While no one wants to undergo a potentially painful dental procedure without local anesthesia, few care for the side effects either. So how long does the numbness due to Novocaine last? What are any potential side effects besides the standard loss of feeling?

How Long Should Novocaine Last?

The typical patient continues to feel numb for anywhere between thirty to sixty minutes. It is unusual for Novocaine to last more than an hour after your procedure. A specific enzyme in the body acts to break down this anesthetic and if your system produces little of the enzyme, then it is possible for Novocaine effects to last much longer. That is very rare, however, and perhaps one patient out of a typical dental practice’s entire roster of clients may feel the effects of Novocaine for many hours as a result. Even so, Novocaine should have no ill effects on the body. Some of the minor side effects that just some people experience are as follows:

  • dizziness,
  • headache,
  • drowsiness,
  • muscle twitching.

The only exceptions come with people who are allergic to Novocaine. This is even rarer than the aforementioned enzyme disorder. If you experience any of the following after receiving Novocaine, contact our office immediately:

  • difficulty breathing,
  • hives,
  • loss of consciousness,
  • chest pain,
  • irregular heartbeat,
  • nausea,
  • trembling.

Since Novocaine is often administered with epinephrine, it is important that you inform our dentists of any medications you are already taking and that you are completely honest about your existing health conditions. For some patients, like those with heart disease or high blood pressure, the use of epinephrine is not recommended and may contribute to any of the above symptoms.

For answers to your questions about Novocaine, feel free to talk with our helpful Carmichael dentists before any procedure where local anesthesia is typically used, such as fillings, root canals and any type of oral surgery.

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