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Dental injection

When patients need to have a dental injection for a dental procedure to be carried out, the patients are usually worried about the pain involved with the local anaesthetic injection. However it is easy to forget that before local anaesthetic was invented, patients used to suffer a lot more during dental procedures.

There are however some extra things that can be done to reduce the pain of dental injections and on most occasions it’s a case that unless the patient specifically requests these extra things, the dentist may simply give the local anaesthetic dental injection as per routine, without any of the extra procedures being carried out.

What can be requested by the patient to reduce the pain of dental injections?

  1. The patient could ask the dentist to use topical local anaesthetic numbing gel to numb the superficial gum in the region of the dental injection administration site to reduce the pain of dental injection penetration. Numbing gel can’t be used alone by itself to numb teeth but it can reduce the pain of dental injections. Numbing gel is available in most dental clinics.
  2. The patient could request to have his/her dental injection delivered using a computerised delivery system such as the Wand which can reduce the pain of dental injections by slowly delivering the local anaesthetic and minimising tissue expansion and pain.
  3. There is anecdotal evidence to suggest that some local anaesthetics hurt patients less than others.  For example some dentists suggest that using Citanest which is an amide-type local anaesthetic agent causes less pain than the standard Lignocaine with adrenaline local anaesthetic that is usually used. Unfortunately as Citanest does not contain adrenaline, it also wears off more quickly which means that it may be acceptable for short procedures but not for more complex longer dental procedures.
  4. The patient could request his/her dentist to use a very fine gauge needle. Experience has shown that very fine needles tend to cause less pain to the patient that wider gauge needles. Unfortunately some deeper block injections need wider gauge needles for them to be safely carried out.
  5. For more nervous patients, Intra-venous Sedation or inhalation sedation could be used to first relax the patient and then the dental injection can be used to deliver the local anaesthetic to the region needed. Intra-venous sedation is also called conscious sedation because unlike general anaesthesia it does not cause patients to stop breathing by themselves but it does significantly relax patients and allows the dental injection to be delivered to the patient either asleep or at least whilst sedated. IV Sedation is perhaps the most effective method of reducing the pain of dental injections. Unfortunately by having IV sedation it does not mean that local anaesthetic injection is no longer necessary and in fact local anaesthetic dental injection still has to be given even when patients are sedated.

Do I need to tell the dentist my full medical history before a dental injection is given?

Yes, For example some types of dental injections are contra-indicated in pregnancy as they can induce premature labour. Some types of dental injections are contra-indicated in people with high blood pressure. Some people have allergies to certain types of local anaesthetic. Certain bleeding disorders require supportive medications and factors to be given before any dental injection is administered to prevent excessive bleeding afterwards. For these reasons it is important to let your dentist know your full medical and drug history before any dental injection is administered.

Is a dental injection necessary for all dental procedures?

No. Superficial fillings and tooth cleaning can be carried out without any dental injections. Non-vital and root filled teeth can also be treated without a dental injection. Deeper fillings, vital tooth root canals and tooth extractions obviously need dental injections and you should speak to your dentist beforehand to see if a dental injection is absolutely necessary for a dental procedure.

Why do some dental injections numb the face and others don’t?

Upper teeth generally require infiltrations, which mean that it is possible just to numb the upper tooth that needs dental treatment with a superficial injection and leave the rest of the mouth without any numbness.

Due to anatomical differences, lower teeth generally require deeper block injections which mean that to numb one tooth, it may be necessary to numb all the teeth on that side as well as the tongue and the lip.

Could any complications arise after dental injections are administered?

  1. Fainting. Administering the dental injection can be a traumatic experience for some patients and from time to time patients can faint. If this happens to you and you feel faint after an injection, you should let your dentist know so that he can lie be back flat in the chair and you will recover very fast after that.
  1. Bleeding from the injection site. This usually stops spontaneously but occasionally it can turn into a haematoma and cause a swelling. If this occurs, it is worth seeing your medical doctor for blood tests to see if you have any undiagnosed bleeding disorders.
  1. Prolonged numbness afterwards can happen to an unlucky few patients who have been given dental injections. This usually recovers after a few months but occasionally it can persist if irreversible damage has been done to the nerves during the administration of the local anaesthetic.

What should be avoided after a dental injection has been given?

Once you leave the dental surgery, more than likely your lips and tongue may still be numb. It’s important not to use your numb lip and tongue too much or to use them with caution whilst they are still numb as it is possible to damage them by accidentally biting into them. This is especially important for children who maybe having their first dental injection and may not be aware that they are biting into their lips when they are eating or speaking whilst still numb.


Pearl Dental Clinic is open 7 days a week from 9am to 9pm. You can book an appointment by calling us on 0208 547 9997 or emailing us or booking an appointment online

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