Is dental anesthesia safe?


If you have visited a dentist and ever been told “You have a cavity” (or anything beyond), chances are that you have had an injectable anesthesia.

As this is such a standard practice, most of us haven’t given much thought to it. After all, dental anesthetic has been used for over 100 years. They must be safe… right?

Up until my dentist visit yesterday I would have said “yes”.
At this particular appointment however, when the needle was being pulled out of my jaw and the injection began to set in – weird would not even begin to describe how I felt.

It was like I was beginning to fade out of the room, I felt dizzy and light. My eyes would not focus and there were doubles, one on top of the other vertically. I debated if I should say something. I decided to just breathe.

After a few minutes the numbness started to kick in and my faculties seemed to return, but that was a very uncomfortable and slightly scary feeling, one which prompted me to do some research on the subject.

I assumed what they had given me was Novocain… 
Novocain is a local anesthetic (painkiller) used by doctors and dentists. It was developed as a substitute for cocaine, which was the original dental anesthetic, in 1905 by German researcher Alfred Einhorn. The trade name Novocain came from the Latin word “novus,” meaning “new,” plus “cocaine.” Apparently, however, Novocain has not been common practice to administer for well over 30 years now. What I received was Lidocaine.

Currently the commonly used local anesthetic solutions are:
Lidocaine (Xylocaine)
Used for blocks and infiltrations; however, effectiveness of analgesia is limited and of brief duration.
Contraindications and side effects: Not to be used with antidepressants or MAOI’s – as it may produce prolonged high blood pressure.
-feeling lightheaded
-low blood pressure
-double vision
-abnormal heart beats
-slow heart beat
-heart block
-severe allergic reactions
-respiratory arrest

Prilocaine with felypressin 
Used for blocks and infiltrations, effective analgesia over 90 minutes.
Side effects:
-Swelling and persistent paresthesia of lips
-cardiovascular effects
-allergic-type reactions
-neurological effects

Articaine with epinephrine (Septocaine)
Currently recommended for infiltration only. It is ideal where blocks are contraindicated.
Side effects:
• tongue pain or swelling, mouth sores;
• nausea, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea, upset stomach;
• increased thirst, drooling;
• nervousness, dizziness, drowsiness;
• ear pain, neck pain, joint or muscle pain;
• unusual or unpleasant taste in your mouth;
• numbness or tingly feeling;
• mild skin rash or itching; or runny nose, sore throat.
• Weak or shallow breathing
• slow heart rate, weak pulse;
• feeling like you might pass out;
• swelling in your face;
• swollen or bleeding gums;
• anxiety, confusion, restless feeling, tremors or shaking;
• blurred vision, ringing in your ears; or
• seizure (convulsions).

Bupivacaine (sensorcaine) 
Used where up to 8 hours of anesthesia is required – mostly for major surgeries.
Side effects:
• nausea
• vomiting
• headache
• back pain
• dizziness
• problems with sexual function
• weak or shallow breathing
• fast heart rate
• gasping
• feeling unusually hot
• slow heart rate
• weak pulse
• feeling restless or anxious
• ringing in the ears
• metallic taste
• speech problems
• numbness or tingling around your mouth
• tremors
• feeling light-headed
• fainting
• problems with urination

Of course, the majority will not experience anything unusual and this is not a reason to panic.
Dentists are trained doctors and will know how to deal with a reaction if one should occur.
In retrospect, after writing this article I highly advise you to speak up and say something if you begin to experience anything out of the norm …Then calm yourself with breathing.

Make sure to tell your dentist and or hygienist if you are pregnant, on any medications or have any known allergies and that they are clearly listed in your chart.



Sarah Barendse
Writer | Graphic Designer at Sarah Barendse Creative
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My name is Sarah J. Barendse. I am a Natural Health Advocate, Writer, Graphic Designer, Life Enthusiast and Spiritualist. I am thrilled to be working with Natural News so look forward to many wonderful out of the box articles with which you may or may not agree. Love me or hate me I am hard to ignore! Happy reading!

*Disclaimer: As all writing, including my own, is subjective and skewed by the writers own beliefs and experiences - I consider all of my blogs "opinion pieces" and do not offer any medical advice. This blog is not intended to treat, cure or diagnose any disease.

  • Jeannie

    I think I had lidocaine the last time. I shook badly. I have a slight tremor, but this was bad.

    I spoke up about it and was told they would use something else next time. It does not look
    like any of the options are going to be any better for me. I have chemical sensitivities that have
    led to convulsions at times. And allergies. The medical doctors here tell me it is all mental.
    I don't believe that but it certainly is an uphill battle in this small town.

  • Paula

    Xylocaine can be administered with or without epinephrine, One or two percent epinephrine as an additive to accomplish vasoconstriction, which can cut down on bleeding during a procedure. Of course epinephrine is adrenalin which side effects are the same as the ones adrenalin would stimulate, ie: Increased blood pressure, heart rate, etc. Ask your dentist for xylocaine without epinephrine. It doesn't have the same longevity, but the anesthetic properties are still the same without the feelings associated with adrenalin. Xylocaine with epinephrine used under the trained health care professionals expertise should be very safe and associated with few side effects.

  • Mike

    So is it safe? Is article leaves me with even more questions now

    • sarahbarendse1975

      It is safe, generally – I was intending the article just to open peoples eyes to the possibilities of side effects because i myself never would have thought about a possible reaction, and didnt even think to say something to the dentist when I did have one….

  • Markus

    I cant imagine that dentists over the world really use much else than articaine as a local anaesthetic. The side effect described above was most likely due to the added adrenaline which got directly into the bloodstream, because a small blood vessel was accidentally punctured and some of the anaesthetic got directly in there. Lidocain for instance is used in germany (for dentistry purposes) only as a surface anaesthetic to numb the skin before the injection. Also EVERY medication has side effects, maybe try reading the package leaflet that is included with a "light" pain killer like Ibuprofen. If you havent this will impress you probably even more. It doesnt mean these complications are going to happen every time, they happen very rarely and the pharmaceutical companies have to write that in there, even if that occured only once in a million. Sorry but this article is plain scaremongering!

    • sarahbarendse1975

      Not intended to scare monger. Intended to let people know possibilities because myself I had never considered them and it scared me when it happened. Informed is always better.

  • lindymcg

    Both my daughter and myself reacted badly a few years ago, with similar reactions to you. In addition, my daughter slept for six hours afterwards and was difficult to wake. We were told it was the adrenaline in the mix that was the problem and to make sure we had adrenaline-free from then on. No problem ever since.

  • Chris

    I had a severe allergic reaction as well and my health has not been the same since that very scary day in October 2013. Thank you for sharing this in your article. I've had my child testing to see if she would react to the anesthesia. Turns out she can't have it either. Thank goodness we had her tested. Now to figure out what we can have.

    • Donna

      How did you get tested what do you ask for ? Thank-you..

  • sarahbarendse1975

    Markus – It is not scaremongering. This was not intended in that manor. If I, as a health blogger, never previously stopped to think about possible effects of dental anesthesia, chances are good that most others have not as well. Knowledge is never a bad thing.
    And yes, all medications come with side effect possibilities… just because its rare, don't be so arrogant to think you wont one day be that one in a million.

  • John

    Hello,I went to the dentist in June 2011,said he needed to pull my lower wisdom teeth.So I had one to be pulled in June and one in August.I never had an anesthetic before.When he pulled my first wisdom tooth he gave me lidocaine.He said that my lower lip will get numb and feel like a fat lip.After I got the shot I could feel it work in my mouth,then next it travels down my throat,down into my stomach, only took about 30 seconds for this to occur.Now I was white as a ghost and felt like passing out.I got over this some,and the dentist was able to pull my lower right wisdom tooth.He noted that I had a reaction to this and would try some other anesthetic on my next appointment.So now in August I was scheduled to get the other wisdom pulled.I reminded him of the last visit,and the reaction from the lidocaine.He assured me it was just my nerves on the first visit and the anesthetic was okay to use,so lidocaine he used again.I started to have the same reaction,but this time I blacked out as I was talking,telling him I am having a reaction to this stuff again.I passed out within 20 seconds after the shot.His assistant had to administer smelling salts to awaken me.I was out for 45 seconds.Next they had me on oxygen for 15 minutes.Man was I sick when I came to.I didn't leave that dentist office for about an hour, after that I was so sick.He admitted that I had an adverse reaction to the lidocaine and advised me to wear a bracelet ,or medical necklace(I'm wearing one now).This reaction happen on a Thursday afternoon,and I did not feel better until Saturday evening,this lidocaine really put me out for two days.After this reaction I called up all of the hospitals in a 60 mile radius to see if they could test me for a working anesthetic.All of the hospitals said there is no test,and they know of no such testing.I had to go to an holistic dentist in River Falls,Wi to get a test kit and I had to have kinesiology testing done to find out what I was compatible with.The testing showed that I may be compatible with septocaine,and mepivacaine(no epi).When I went to River Fall,Wi. Health Centered dentistry to have mercury filling removed they advised that I take no anesthetic.So I had all my dental work done without anesthetics,ouch,about 4 hours worth.In closing here,after I had that reaction it really scared that dentist ,and he said that I better get a medical alert tag because he said if I were in some kind of accident and that a larger dose of lidocaine was given to me, he said it would kill me.Thanks for listening..!!

    • Sarah J. Barendse

      John, – WOW is all I can say. Thank you very much for taking the time to share that!!! I am glad you are ok!!

  • russell Gibson

    What great information the thing is probably most people find out about this after they use this poison .Happened to me and just can not seem to get this poison out of my system. It is torture Hives face swelling then not swelling then swelling not easy for folks when they have a reaction to this The hives will be unbearable. The thing is many people will have theses reactions and will not know it is this that is causing there hardship. How this stuff can even be on the market is beyond me Not sure but I think
    out of around nine hundred or so people eighteen percent experience a face edema
    reaction and as with myself that and Hives Just think what 18% out of maybe three million would be. This is shameful and the Manufacturing of this stopped and them
    punished in some way. Actually every one before using this should be tested to see if they would be allergic or not. Anyone with hives you have my best wishes. Sad