Am I immune to anesthesia or do I need a new dentist?

I don’t know what is wrong with me, but every time I have to get a cavity filled at the dentist, they can never get me numb. I really don’t like going to the dentist anyway, so when I have to get a filling, it is terrible. They do one shot and wait. They do another shot and wait. It’s not fun. Is it me? Am I just immune to the anesthesia? Is it my dentist? Does he not know what he’s doing?


Dear Cal,

You didn’t mention much about your past experience at the dentist, except that you don’t like to go. If your past includes some kind of traumatic experience at the dentist, that experience could be playing a part in why you have a hard time getting numb when you have dental procedures.

There are cases when anxiety and stress prevent novocain from working correctly. Why still isn’t completely understood. It may be muscle tensity, the body’s chemistry, or some other factor, but the numbing action of the novocain doesn’t complete or it wears off very quickly.

Sedation dentistry to the rescue

If you feel that anxiety and stress describes you, sedation dentistry may be a good avenue for you. Sometimes starting with nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, can help you relax enough for the novocain to work properly. Nitrous oxide alone is enough for some patients to be able to get their dental work done comfortably. If you still aren’t comfortable, you can try conscious sedation dentistry. You would take some medicine to help you relax before your appointment, but you don’t sleep. You are just very comfortable, so much so that you may not even remember the appointment.

If you haven’t had a bad experience in the past that would lead you to feel anxiety and struggle for novocain to work, it may not be a bad idea to try a different dentist. There are dentists who are especially good at gentle dentistry.

This post is sponsored by Dr. Ryan Perry in Baton Rouge, LA.

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