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.