Our bodies work differently. Some dental patients don’t react to local anesthetics by getting numb. This is understandably concerning when you need dental treatment. (And the word “concerning” may be a huge understatement!)
It’s important to know that bad experiences in the past don’t guarantee that you will never be able to become numb.
At Kevin Bass DMD Cosmetic and Family Dentistry, we take extra time and care with people who have historically had problems getting numb. Various methods used with different medications can overcome numbing conditions. We will find the exact combination to make you comfortable.
Let’s examine the possible causes.
What Can Affect How I Respond To Numbing Medication?
A pH Imbalance
Your body’s pH level is a measure of the acidity or alkalinity in the blood and other fluids. Also called acid-base balance, the pH scale goes from 0 to 14. A pH below 7 is acidic. A pH above 7 is alkaline or basic. 7.40 is considered a normal blood pH. Your lungs and kidneys work consistently to control your pH balance.
When the pH level is abnormal, numbing agents can be less powerful. Medical conditions such as asthma, emphysema, untreated diabetes, and cancer can affect pH levels.
An Acute Local Infection
This is related to the previous section because an infection alters the pH balance. If a dental patient has an infection in their mouth (sometimes called a hot tooth), it may need to be treated with antibiotics prior to dental treatment.
If painkilling medications wear off swiftly, it could be due to an extra-active metabolism. Intensive exercise and caffeine can speed up your metabolism. It’s best not to overdo either of these immediately before dental treatment.
Differences In Anatomy
When administering local anesthetics, dentists need to locate your nerve(s). But everyone is wired differently and X-rays don’t always give a clear picture of the location of nerves. The size and shape of your jaw and the amount of fat and muscle influence where nerves are located. Some men and women even have an extra nerve where most people have only one.
The Patient Moves During The Injection (We Want To Get On Your Nerves)
We get it. It’s hard to stay perfectly still when your dentist is putting a needle into your mouth. But you want the painkiller delivered to the nerve and it’s hard to hit a moving target.
People with red hair and fair skin may need additional painkilling medication. This sounds wacky, but it is backed by science. The gene that produces hair color (Mc1R) also influences the pain receptors in the brain. The MC1R mutation that produces red hair is due to the production of pheomelanin. The presence of pheomelanin can intensify the body’s sensitivity to pain. This is another way people with auburn tresses are unique. But if you are a redhead who has avoided dental visits, please schedule an appointment by calling us at 215-368-1424. We can help you keep your smile as uniquely beautiful as your hair.
Individuals who are extra nervous at the dentist may have trouble getting numb. This could be due to a number of factors. Jaw clenching and holding your breath may change the way the body reacts to painkillers. Extreme anxiety may also influence the perception of pain even though there are no biological changes.
This rare connective tissue disorder affects a body’s reaction to the numbing medication
We Can Overcome These Challenges
Dr. Kevin Bass takes special care of dental patients who have difficulty getting numb. We use different medications and processes to work around these concerns.
There is no need to abstain from dental treatment if you have had problems with anesthetics. Come talk to us. We will keep you comfortable during dental treatment.