Tortured Before Getting Numb

I need some advice. I had to have a tooth extracted. The whole process was a nightmare. It took so so many shots to get me numb. I lost count at eleven. I wanted to stop, but he was sure he could get me numb. Eventually, he did but it was sheer torture until them. The tooth was extracted. Now I’m home and have been recovering and noticed there are sharp bits at the end where the tooth was extracted. Did my dentist do something wrong?


Dear Bill,

Man grabbing his jaw in pain

I think I know what is going on here. Your dentist didn’t technically do anything wrong, except not quite understanding how anxiety affects his numbing medication. When someone is anxious their metabolism kicks up. This will cause your body to burn off the meds, leaving you with full feeling. Too many dentists do not understand this.

Fortunately, there is a solution which I’ll go over with you in a moment. Before that, I want to go over the sharp pieces you are feeling. It is normal for sharp edges to appear during the healing process. There are normally sharp edges in the socket when the tooth is extracted. You don’t notice it immediately after the procedure because the gum is covering it. As you heal, the gum tissue shrinks down revealing it. Your dentist will be able to either clip it or smooth it. I recommend giving him a call and letting him know.

Dealing with Dental Anxiety

As to the anxiety that is keeping you from getting numb, there is a simple solution. You need to see a dentist who offers dental sedation options. There are three levels, but most dentists offer two. The mildest is nitrous oxide. It is sometimes called laughing gas. That’s not because it makes you laugh, but it does relax you and give you a floaty sort of feeling. It’s administered with a nosepiece and you breathe in the gas. When your procedure is over, your dentist simply switches the gas to oxygen and you’re good to get on with your day in just a few moments.

For those with more severe anxiety, a better option is oral conscious sedation (OCS). This is administered with a pill that you will take before your appointment. It is quite strong. You’ll need someone to drive you to and from your dental procedure. They’ll also need to stay with you in your home until you are lucid and steady on your feet. Most people completely sleep through their procedure with this form, so it is sometimes called sleep dentistry.

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