Dental anesthesia is an essential part of many dental procedures and is used to help control pain, reduce anxiety, and provide the patient with a more comfortable experience. The length of time that dental anesthesia lasts may depend on several factors, including the type of anesthetic used, the dose administered, the patient's overall health and medical history, and the specific procedure being performed.

dental anesthesia injection taking placeIn some cases, the anesthesia wears off, but the patient never regains feeling. That's because, for the unfortunate few, a dental procedure can result in permanent nerve damage. In this article, we will explore the different types of dental anesthesia, the factors that influence their duration, and what to expect after receiving dental anesthesia. We'll also discuss how to determine if you've sufferd nerve damage as a result of a dental procedure. 

Types of Dental Anesthesia

There are several different types of anesthesia that can be used during dental procedures and dental surgeries, including the following.

Local Anesthesia

Local anesthesia is the most common type of anesthesia used in dental procedures. It works by numbing a specific area of the mouth and is usually administered through an injection. Examples of local anesthetics include lidocaine, novocaine, and articaine.

Intravenous Sedation

Intravenous sedation (IV) is used for more complex or invasive surgical procedures, such as wisdom tooth extractions or multiple tooth extractions. This type of anesthesia is administered through an IV and is used to help patients relax and manage pain during the procedure.

General Anesthesia

General anesthesia is used for more complex dental surgical procedures that require the patient to be fully unconscious. General anesthesia may be administered through an IV and is typically used in cases where the patient has a fear of dental procedures or is undergoing a long or complex procedure.

Factors That Influence the Duration of Dental Anesthesia

There are several factors that can influence the length of time that dental anesthesia lasts, including the following.

Dosage of Anesthetic

The amount of anesthesia used can have a significant impact on its duration. Higher doses will typically last longer than lower doses.

Type of Anesthetic

Different types of anesthetics have different durations. For example, local anesthetics, like lidocaine and novocaine, typically last for one to two hours, while longer-acting anesthetics, such as bupivacaine or marcaine, can provide pain relief for up to four to six hours.

Patient’s Metabolism

The speed at which a patient's body metabolizes the anesthetic can also impact its duration. Factors such as age, overall health, and the presence of certain medical conditions can all influence how fast a patient metabolizes an anesthetic.

Type of Procedure

The specific procedure being performed can also impact the duration of the anesthesia because some procedures may require more anesthetic than others. Similarly, some procedures may require different types of anesthetics. For example, a simple filling may require a small amount of anesthetic that only lasts for a short time, while a more complex procedure, such as a wisdom tooth extraction, may require a higher volume of a longer-acting anesthetic.

What to Expect After Receiving Dental Anesthesia

After receiving dental anesthesia, patients should expect to experience some numbness and tingling in the affected area. This is normal and should gradually dissipate as the anesthetic wears off. Depending on the type of anesthetic used and the procedure performed, patients may also experience some discomfort or mild pain, which can usually be managed with over-the-counter pain medications or prescription pain medications if the pain is more severe.

In some cases, patients may experience some side effects after receiving dental anesthesia, such as nausea, dizziness, or blurred vision. These side effects are typically mild and will often resolve on their own within a few hours. In rare cases, patients may experience an allergic reaction to the anesthetic, which can cause symptoms such as hives, itching, or difficulty breathing. If you experience any symptoms of an allergic reaction after receiving dental anesthesia, it is important to seek medical attention immediately.

Should I Be Worried That I Have Permanent Nerve Damage After a Dental Procedure?

It depends on what symptoms you’re experiencing. Below are some of the more common signs and symptoms of permanent nerve damage after a dental procedure.

  • Numbness: If you’re experiencing persistent numbness or tingling in your lips, cheeks, face, tongue, or gums after a dental procedure, this could be an indication of nerve damage.
  • Painful Sensations: If you experience persistent pain, particularly in the affected area, it could be a sign of nerve damage. This pain is usually described as an electric shock or a burning sensation.
  • Muscular Problems: If you experience muscle weakness or difficulty moving the muscles of your face after a dental procedure, this may indicate nerve damage.
  • Loss of Sensation: A loss of sensation anywhere in your face, lips, tongue, or gums, can be a sign of nerve damage. People often notice this when they have a hot or cold liquid and don’t experience the heat or cold.
  • Loss of Function: If you experience difficulty chewing food, speaking, or swallowing, this could be a sign of nerve damage.

It is important to note that it can take several months for the symptoms of nerve damage to fully develop, so it is important to monitor your symptoms closely, even if you do not experience any immediate problems after the dental procedure. The earlier you seek treatment for nerve damage the better. Thus, if you have concerns about nerve damage after a dental procedure, it is important that you contact your dentist or oral surgeon for an evaluation as soon as possible. Your doctors may recommend additional tests, such as an electromyogram (EMG) or nerve conduction study, to determine the extent of your nerve damage.