General Question

MilkyWay's avatar

What are the side effects of local anesthetics?

Asked by MilkyWay (13695points) August 8th, 2012

I don’t mean just the numbing of the nerves, that much is obvious. I mean other effects one might come across.
I just had two of my teeth taken out and the dentist used some… felt like someone had punched me hard in the face and it was swollen, haha. But when I looked in the mirror, it wasn’t.
I was just curious to know what other affects local anesthetic has on the body and/or the mind.

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26 Answers

WestRiverrat's avatar

It really is dependant on which local anaesthetic is used and how the person metabolizes it.
Novacaine and cocaine for instance are both fairly common dental anaesthetics in the US, but each has a different effect on the user.

josie's avatar

Not much except to block nerve transmission at the point of administration. Some dentists use local with epinephrine which can make your heart race

YARNLADY's avatar

My dentist uses an anaesthetic that has zero after effects and wears off quickly.

Lightlyseared's avatar

@WestRiverrat Neither novacaine or cocaine are used in dental anaesthetics. Novocaine was withdrawn from the US market years ago and cocaine isn’t used due to its CD status and the fact its not a particularly good local anaesthetic. Dentists most commonly use lidocaine or ocasionally marcaine if they really want to numb the area.

All local anaesthetics cause the area effected to feel swollen. For example when I numb a patients throat prior to endoscopy they often report the feelling of a lump in the throat. Epinephrine is often added to reduce the blood supply to the area so as to prolong the effect by delaying the absorption of the drug. An overdose of any local anaesthetic can cause life threatening cardiac dysrhythmia although somewhat amusingly theny can also be used to treat life threatening cardiac dysrhythmia as well.

MilkyWay's avatar

@josie Yes, I experienced a fast heart rate… I thought it was due to my nervousness haha.
@YARNLADY How quickly does it go away? Mine lasted for a good 5 hours.

YARNLADY's avatar

The latest one, last week, for a small upper molar cavity, went away while I was at the front desk making arrangement for the payment. I felt nothing as I left and drove home.

In the old days, I used to be very sick and sore for hours afterwards, but the last 10 years I have had no issues.

P. S. My male dentist retired, and a female dentist did the work the last two times I have been in. It is amazing what smaller fingers with a lighter touch does for the comfort. This time was even better, because she is training an assistant, and they both used their fingers instead of that horrible plastic device to hold my lips back.

jerv's avatar

There is often a brief period of hypersensitivity after it wears off. Also note that having your mouth wide open for that long will make your jaw feel like you’ve been punched, but you won’t notice it until after the local wears off. That has nothing to do with the local except that the local masks the pain for a while.

augustlan's avatar

It hurts me like hell, every time. Not just at the injection site, it’s not the shot itself that hurts. It’s like I can feel the medicine spreading out from the site, and it feels like fire running through my veins. I hear this is not normal, but it is for me, so I avoid it any time I can.

jerv's avatar

@augustlan I get that too, and little topical anesthetic before the injection really helps with that, at least for me.

HolographicUniverse's avatar

Toothpaste company Colgate indicates that one potential side effect of dental anesthesia is the development of hematomas. Many dental anesthetics are given via injection. If the needle punctures or nicks a vessel blood can seep and collect below the surface of the skin or the gum tissue. This can lead to swelling. Although painful, hematomas are not considered dangerous.

Local anesthetics for dental procedures are designed to numb the nearby tissue. Because it takes time for these to wear off, you may experience temporary paralysis or numbness in your mouth or face. This can cause your eyelids or part of the face to droop. It can also make speech or eating difficult. You are also advised to be careful when moving your mouth because it is easy to inadvertently bite the cheeks or tongue.

According to the Mayo Clinic, in some cases the compounds used for dental anesthesia rapidly travel to the bloodstream and are absorbed by the body. This primarily affects the brain, leading to toxicity of the central nervous system (CNS). CNS toxicity can cause unusual excitability and irritability coupled with a rapid heartbeat and difficulty breathing. It can also cause increased sweating and paleness, as well as the sensation of being hot or cold. Patients can also develop double vision, confusion and in extreme situations, convulsions or seizures.

According to the journal Medical Toxicology, nitrous oxide can cause a number of side effects. If too much is used, it can cause hypoxia, which is a subnormal amount of oxygen in the blood. One sign of hypoxia is dizziness resulting from low oxygen flow to the brain. It can also cause air filled portions of the body to expand, so it should not be used if you have bowel obstructions, sinus or middle ear problems or a collapsed lung. Finally, nitrous oxide impairs your body’s ability to use vitamin B12, which is needed for cell replication. As a result it can cause anemia and low white blood cell counts to develop.

I figured a copy and paste reference would give a more definitive answer.

augustlan's avatar

@HolographicUniverse It is useful, but please cite your source (link to the page you got it from). Otherwise it gets removed for plagiarism. Thanks!

HolographicUniverse's avatar

Haha ironic, the one time I copy and paste a response

Fair enough friend

Aside from the above infomation lightly seared gave a more than pertinent answer.

bewailknot's avatar

The locals most commonly used don’t work well for me. I had a biopsy on my leg done under local and it wore off before he was done. When I get dental work done I take a card from my oral surgeon that lists what he uses on me. Whatever it is works well.

MilkyWay's avatar

Thank you everyone!! <3

JLeslie's avatar

You probably feel punched in the mouth because of the work that was done, not the drug.

Some people have severe reactions to local anaesthetics, but it is very rare.

@augustlan The meds they use to numb for skin biopsies and to give stitches is usually quite painful, but I never had that experience when getting my mouth numbed for dental work. I don’t know if it is the same drug? A couple years ago I was injected in an area on my inner thigh to remove a mole and I felt nothing. Nothing. The nurse got a new syringe filled with lidocaine and injected me again just to be sure, because we both were surprised I felt zero pain.

augustlan's avatar

@jerv The topical hasn’t helped me, unfortunately.
@JLeslie I definitely get the reaction with the stuff they use for dental work, so I usually get it done without anesthesia.

Nullo's avatar

I’ve known some people to get jittery.

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Lightlyseared's avatar

@augustlan The pain could be hypersensitivity to lidocaine, which is actually quite common. You can also be genetically resistant to the stuff. Have you ever asked your dentist to try using something else instead. Theres a whole load of other local anaesthetics that are licensed for use in dentistry (although most of them require a little time to start working unlike lidocaine which is why they’re not that popular).

JLeslie's avatar

@augustlan Without anything? Sounds awful.

augustlan's avatar

@Lightlyseared No, I’ve never asked for anything else. I worked for a dentist when I was in my teens, and learned from him what work I could safely get done without drugs, so I’ve just always gone that route, and suffered through the shots if I need them. I’ll keep it in mind for the future, though. Thanks for the tip!

@JLeslie You’d be surprised how little actual pain is involved. The outsides of your teeth have no feeling, so unless the drilling is very deep (and the nerve is still alive), you can get all sorts of stuff done without the shots. Even for root scaling and planing, in most cases the pain from that is less severe than the pain I get from the drug.

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JLeslie's avatar

@augustlan I guess everything is relative. I competely believe the shot is horrible for you. I hope I didn’t come across as though I thought you were overreacting?

RocketGuy's avatar

The nerves in the the left side of my jaw connect to those on the right side – essentially forming a backup nerve pathway. I did not know for a long time. When the dentist tried to numb one side, the pain signals went through the other side. They kept telling me the pain I felt from their drilling was all in my head. Finally one dentist figured it out and started using a Ligamaject. That knocks out responses in the particular tooth before it splits into 2 paths. I had a full root canal once and did not feel a single thing after he hit me with the Ligamaject. The downside is that it pokes a hole in the jawbone, which aches later when the drugs wear off. It is nothing like the pain from un-numbed teeth drilling, though.

augustlan's avatar

@JLeslie I didn’t take it that way, no worries.

@Lightlyseared and @RocketGuy Would Ligamaject be a viable alternative for me? Though I don’t relish the thought of a hole in my jaw. Eek! I’m a tough chick, though… I’ve had amniocentesis without a local, and 3 vaginal births without epidurals. I may not really need an alternative, I guess.

RocketGuy's avatar

If you need work done on your teeth and Novocain is not working, ask for the Ligamaject. It’s worth it.

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