tooth emergencies
what to do for those unexpected toothaches
find a dentist
locate a dentist
in your area
tooth terms
basic and not so basic
glossary of tooth terms
  home > your teeth > tooth terms > l > Local Anesthetic (Novocaine)

find a dentist

my toothology

Your Teeth
Spiffy Teeth
Tooth Wizards
Tooth Emergencies
Teeth Rewards
Teeth Inside / Out
Tooth Rituals
Tooth Benefits
I want to be…
Toothy Kids
tooth terms

about toothology
our mission
toothology authors
contact us
terms of use

subscribers
why toothology?
subscriber programs

Printer Friendly
all a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

tooth terms

AN_R05017_Local Carpules

Local Anesthetic (Novocaine)

LOCAL ANESTHETICS are used in dentistry to anesthetize teeth and portions of your jaw so as to maximize comfort during dental procedures.

Dental anesthetics are dispensed in individual, sterile cartridges into which a sterile needle is inserted.

Typical dental anesthetics are "-caine type agents" such as xylocaine, lidocaine, carbocaine, and marcaine.  Novocaine was perhaps the first widely used local anesthetic but it is no longer available. Some anesthetics contain epinephrine (adrenalin), a vasoconstrictor (reduces blood flow), to decrease bleeding in the site and increase anesthetic potency.

Dentists inject anesthetic into spaces near nerves that innervate (supply sensation) the area to be treated.  The goal is to let the anesthetic gently diffuse into the desired region.

As a patient, you will feel the needle go in and the pressure of the solution being injected into the tissues.  Generally, the slower the injection, the less the discomfort.

Topical Anesthetic is a -caine type ointment applied before the injection to diminish the prick of the needle.

Each patient is anatomically unique; therefore, it is possible to inject directly into a nerve.  This situation causes sudden, sharp "shock" followed by immediate anesthesia.

It is also possible to inject into a blood vessel.  In those circumstances, you may feel your heart pound faster.  This is due to the epinephrine (Adrenalin) in the anesthetic.  You may also swell and bruise (hematoma).

Those situations are unfortunate complications which should not be confused with an allergy.  Very few people are truly allergic to dental anesthetic.  If you suspect an anesthetic allergy, you should have this fact documented by an allergist who will test for reaction to all the -caine type drugs and recommend an alternative anesthetic.

©2001 - 2002 Toothology, Inc. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use. Contact us.
Optimized for MS Internet Explorer 5+ & Netscape 6+