Many people dread going to the dentist because they fear the pain that is commonly associated with dental procedures. Granted, it’s not always pleasant or painless to undergo getting a tooth pulled, having a root canal done or submitting yourself to some other type of dental treatment. However, thanks to modern science, there is now technology and techniques available to dentists that make it so that the process doesn’t have to be as painful to the patient as it once was. A dental nerve block, for instance, is one type of pain management method that dentists employ to help make the dental treatment process more bearable for patients.
What Is a Dental Nerve Block?
As its name implies, a dental nerve block is something that is specifically designed to block pain in the mouth and gums area. It’s commonly used in dental treatments, but it may also be used in cosmetic procedures, such as lip injections, to help dull any pain that patients might experience when undergoing treatment. They are actually a type of anesthesia that is administered to one area in order to numb the nerves in that specific area for treatment, making it so that the patient can’t feel any (or at least hardly any) pain in the area those nerves are located in.
What to Expect When You Have a Dental Nerve Block
When you have a dental nerve block, you can expect to feel numbness in your teeth, tongue, lips, chin and gums, even in the areas where the nerve block wasn’t administered. Additionally, it’s also not uncommon to feel tingling in the tongue, floor and roof of the mouth as well. This tingling merely indicates that the nerves are under the influence of anesthesia. Patients might also experience what is known as “lingual shock” when they first have a dental nerve block administered. Lingual shock usually manifests itself in the form of patients making an involuntary movement, such as a jerking motion, and this occurs when the needle that administered the nerve block actually touches the nerve and causes a slight “shock” to that nerve.
Administration of a Dental Nerve Block
Dental nerve blocks are administered with needles, but there are different techniques that dentists use to administer the nerve block, depending upon the specific nerves that he or she wants to affect. There are three commonly employed dental nerve block techniques, however, each of which are explained as follows:
Possible Side Effects and Complications
Although dental nerve blocks are considered safe for the most part, just like any other type of pain management technique, they are not without their possible side effects and complications. Perhaps the most common side effect of a dental nerve block is the possibility of patients inadvertently harming themselves due to their inability to feel anything the numbed areas. Because the numbness renders them unable to feel pain, they might inflict self-trauma on themselves by biting their tongues or lips, and they might also accidentally cause themselves to get a thermal burn from drinking liquids that are too hot since they won’t be able to gauge the temperature with the numbed nerves. These are among the most common possible complications. However, in rarer occurrences, blood vessels might accidentally be punctured when injecting the nerve block, a blood blister could occur, facial paralysis could set in, resulting in temporary loss of facial muscles, and needle tract infections could be contracted. These rarer occurrences are more often than not caused by some sort of negligence or error on the dentist’s part, however, so ensure that you’re visiting a dentist that you trust when you’re anticipating undergo a procedure that involves a dental nerve block.
Medscape. “Oral nerve block.” Retrieved on December 4, 2016, from http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/82850-overview.
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University of Texas Medical Branch. “Local anesthesia techniques in oral and maxillofacial surgery.” Retrieved on December 4, 2016, from https://www.utmb.edu/otoref/grnds/anesth-mouth-0410/anesth-mouth.pdf.
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