Understanding dental anesthesia: Types, side effects and risks


A lot of people feel uncomfortable going to the dentist. This is because dental procedures usually cause pain, discomfort, and anxiety. But, there is an option that will ease your experience very comfortably, and that is anesthesia.

Anesthesia is a state of controlled, temporary loss of sensation or awareness that is induced for medical purposes. It may include some or all of analgesia (relief from or prevention of pain), paralysis (muscle relaxation), amnesia (loss of memory), and unconsciousness.


Dental Anesthesia is a medical treatment that prevents people from getting pain during dental work. Due to Anesthesia, people usually benefit from processes that lead to a healthy and long life. Even though Anesthesia is not a new concept, the benefits it gives are something that gives relief.

When you go for routine trips to your dentist, it mainly involves a simple dental hygiene appointment, but in some cases, more work is required to keep your teeth healthy and free from diseases. Some common anesthesia processes involve tooth extractions, wisdom teeth removal, cavity filling, and root canal procedures. Among all these, filling cavities is one of the most common procedures that need dental anesthesia.


There are mainly three different kinds of dental anesthesia

  • Local anesthesia: According to American Dental Association, local anesthesia helps prevent pain in a specified area in your mouth by blocking the transmission of  nerve impulses responsible for transmitting pain, there by numbing the tissue. Sometimes your dental care provider might apply topical anesthesia before injecting the local anesthesia. Topical anesthesia is used to soothe mouth sores, and injectable anesthetics fill cavities, treat gum disease, and prepare your teeth for the crowns.
  • Sedation: There are several levels of sedation, starting from minimum to deep. As per the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial surgeons, minimum sedation includes localization of anesthetic with the calming impacts of the laughing gas. Deep sedation has complete depression of the consciousness with an ability to wake the person whenever needed. Minimum sedation is used to get relief from pain for some of the simple processes. It is also used in many procedures, such as removing wisdom teeth or placing dental implants. Moderate sedation is used for treating the affected wisdom teeth.
  • General Anesthesia:    General anesthesia suppresses central nervous system activity and results in unconsciousness and total lack of sensation, using either injected or inhaled drugs.


It's anesthesia where you are put to sleep before the surgery. This anesthesia impacts the   entire body and puts people in a relaxed and unconscious state for undergoing the whole process without being aware of the entire process. The entire intention of general anesthesia is that the person will not wake up or feel anything during the process. General anesthesia is mainly used for the removal of wisdom teeth, placement of the dental implant, and other such exclusive dental procedures. 

Your oral surgeon will determine the best option for you, as the anesthesia requirement is not the same for everyone.


Different side effects of dental anesthesia

Before undertaking the procedure, it is essential to know about the side effects of dental anesthesia. This helps you in being prepared for the treatment and feel confident.

While side effects of local anesthesia in dentistry are rare, numbness is sometimes felt outside the impacted part of your mouth. Eyelids and the cheek muscles sometimes droop till numbness subsides. Some of the other concerns are

  • Losing the ability to blink temporarily
  • Increasing heartbeat
  • Nerve damage
  • Hematomas

       Side effects of sedation mainly include headache, drowsiness, and nausea. These side effects will not last for a long time. Some of the other side effects include

  • Headache
  • Pain at the site of the needle insertion  
  • Problems during urination
  • Damages to nerve 


Side effects of general anesthesia mainly include nausea and vomiting, muscle aches, itches, confusion, hypothermia, and chills. In sporadic cases, general anesthesia can cause some severe complications, cognitive dysfunction, post-operation delirium, and loss of memory in the long term. Malignant hyperthermia is another side effect of general anesthesia, which is one kind of serious complication of anesthesia that might occur at the time of surgery. Let your dental surgeon know if you or your family member suffered from malignant hyperthermia during surgery.

If you have any concerns about side effects post oral anesthesia surgery, reach out to your dental professional as soon as possible. You must take a very active role in oral care, especially regarding surgery.

Even though local anesthesia remains the backbone of pain control in dentistry, researchers are still looking for new and better means of pain management. Maximum researchers focus on enhancing anesthetic agent sectors, delivery devices, and methods. New technologies have been developed that keep the potential to assist the dentist in offering improved pain relief with decreased injection pain and few side effects.



Dentists all over the world treat a lot of patients with anesthesia each year. Your oral care professional guides you best on what kind of anesthesia is best for the procedure you will undergo. You need to understand the dental treatment risk and advantages and not be late in making your dental doctor know about any side effects. So, if you have any concerns, fix an appointment with a dental care provider at MyDentalPlan, a platform with many dental doctors.



About the Author:

Suprithi Choudhary, M.Pharm (Pharmacology) Medical Content writer

Suprithi is a Pharma Professional working as a medical content writer and previously worked as a Research Scientist and Senior Research Analyst


  • C.M Academy
  • Attended the Panjab University- Chandigarh, Pharma post-graduate in Pharmacology

Special thanks to Dr Deepak Kulkarni, a dental surgeon with over 23 years of experience who proofread this blog. He graduated from the H.K.E's Dental College, Gulbarga, and has certifications in ACHS International Accreditation Education Plan; Advanced Rotary Endodontic - Restorative Continuum; and Leadership, Team Building and Customer Service Leadership from the Oscar Murphy International.


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