Dental anesthesia has come a long way from its primitive past, and is becoming a widely used solution for routine and complex operations alike. The two main methods of sedation involve local or general numbing, with the former targeting specific areas and the latter making use of full-body sedation with either nitrous oxide or an intravenous solution.
The most common local agent is lidocaine, a modern solution that has replaced the now obsolete Novocain. Lidocaine can be used by itself or with other, more long-lasting drugs like Marcaine. Instances where this would be used include operations that contain multiple series of incisions, or where the patient requires numbness or sedation to several areas of the body at once. Epinephrine can also be used in tandem with local agents, and forces the body to absorb the drugs slower so that the sedation effect lasts longer.
The injection into the lower jaw and teeth is a common area to administer dental anesthesia, as it’s especially effective. This is because of the inferior alveolar nerve, the most commonly sedated nerve in medical practice, which runs from the mandible through the lower teeth and into the tongue.
Teeth implants are a common operation that calls for a general solution. Patients are usually given either nitrous oxide or an IV, because the procedure contains more extensive incisions than those found in a more common procedure like a root canal. Root canals, which are known because of the intense pain involved, command an aggressive local agent, greatly reducing the pain for the patient.