Dentist Can’t Get Me Numb

My dentist is puzzled and gave me my money back while he tries to figure it out. He was so distressed about how much pain I was in, I almost felt sorry for him! He tried to get me numb and it just wasn’t working. Numbing paste and 7 shots later for a single tooth and I was still in agony. I was my first procedure like this so I was admittedly nervous not having an idea of what to expect. Have you heard of this happening before? My dentist did give me a strong painkiller to get by until we figure things out, but I am worried about staying on pain killers too long. My mother was an addict and I don’t want to chance getting addicted.


Dear Amanda,

woman asleep in the dental chair
There is a way to sleep through your dental procedures

I am glad you have a dentist who obviously cares about his patients. I do think I have a good idea of what can be going on here. The clue was when you said you were nervous.

It is completely normal for patients to be anxious about a procedure, especially one you don’t know what to expect. What most dentists don’t know is that anxiety can, in some cases, burn off the numbing medication faster than it can work.

The solution for this is some dental sedation. With some patients, just using nitrous oxide is enough. It is a gas that is administered through a nosepiece. It has the benefit of allowing you to get on with your day as you normally would. The gas relaxes you, which in turn allows your numbing medication to function to its full potential.

Other patients, who have a much higher level of anxiety, need something much stronger. Oral conscious sedation is administered by pill. However, it is so strong, you will need someone to drive you to and from your dental appointment.

Most dentists have nitrous oxide available, so if you want to stick with this dentist, who obviously is compassionate, then try that. If the experience has you afraid you need something stronger, you may have to look for a dentist who is already trained in dental sedation. Though, I’m sure your dentist will want to get certified himself once you share this with him.

Whatever you decide, don’t put off treatment. I’m not worried about a conscientious patient, such as yourself, developing an addiction. What I am worried about is the dental infection spreading and turning into a dental emergency.

This blog is brought to you by Baton Rouge Dentist Dr. Steven Collins.