How Long Does It Take For Dental Anesthesia To Wear Off?

Are you curious how long it takes the effects of dental anesthesia to wear off? Discover the answer with this guide to dental anesthesia from Flossy.

April 29, 2022
How Long Does It Take For Dental Anesthesia To Wear Off?

If you’re getting a dental procedure that requires an anesthetic, you might be wondering how long it takes for the effects to wear off. 

While this depends on many individual factors, there’s still a general timeline. Reading this guide from Flossy to discover how long it takes dental anesthesia to wear off. 


How Long Does Dental Anesthesia Last?

Many factors affect the time anesthesia lasts. Here’s what to expect, depending on the type of anesthesia you’re getting: 


If Novocaine Is Used for Local Anesthesia

You should expect Novocaine to numb your gums for one to two hours completely. In addition, you can feel general numbness for up to five hours. 

Three factors determine exactly how long the effects of Novocaine will last for you:

  1. The Novocaine Dose: How much Novocaine you receive depends on the type of procedure you’re getting. A deep root canal requires a much higher dose than a cavity filling. In addition, you have to consider the size of the area receiving treatment. The higher the dose, the longer the Novocaine effects last. 
  2. Individual Factors: Novocaine’s effects vary by individual. That’s because everyone’s body breaks down Novocaine differently. However, while certain disorders make breaking down Novocaine difficult, much of how quickly this happens depends on your age, weight, and metabolism. 
  3. Use of Epinephrine: The use of epinephrine also determines how long the area remains numb. Epinephrine causes the blood vessels to get smaller, which reduces blood flow to the injection site and keeps the anesthetic confined to that particular area—this prevents it from dissipating and being excreted from the body for a longer time. 


If You’re Sedated With Nitrous Oxide

When you wake up from the procedure, you might feel slightly disoriented for up to an hour.  You might feel some side effects of long procedures for up to eight hours. 

However, this depends largely on how long the procedure lasts. The longer the procedure, the longer you should expect to feel the side effects following it. 

In addition, individual factors may play a role in how you feel following the sedation. Those who are generally in better health will be able to quickly metabolize the medication and return to their regular state shortly after. However, those who are in poorer health might take longer to recover.  

Regardless of how quickly you recover, many doctors will advise you not to drive or engage in heavy physical activity for up to 24 hours following the procedure to ensure the effects of the nitrous oxide gas are fully out of your system. 


If You Receive General Anesthesia

After the procedure, the flow of the anesthetic stops, and you gradually wake up. It might take several days for the drug to leave your system completely. For this reason, you may experience slight confusion, memory problems, and slow reflexes for up to 48 hours following the procedure.

You might need to stay in a hospital from several hours up to several days so that medical providers can observe you. However, as with most anesthetics, this depends on your individual organism.

Your doctor will advise you to stay away from driving, drinking alcohol, or engaging in vigorous physical activity during the entire duration of your recovery period. 


What Is Dental Anesthesia?

Anesthesia is the loss of sensation—with or without consciousness. In dental procedures, there are three main types of anesthesia: 

  • Local anesthesia
  • Sedation
  • General anesthesia

Each of these has specific uses.  


What Is Local Anesthesia?

Local anesthesia can be applied topically to the area or injected into the gum. While applying the anesthetic topically provides some numbing, it’s not the most effective strategy. 

For this reason, injections are the most common form of local anesthesia—although they are definitely not the most popular and might soon be replaced with alternate anesthetic practices

What Is Local Anesthesia Best For?

This type of anesthesia and is appropriate for anything from simple cavity fillings to deep root canals. Administering local anesthesia is a quick and simple process that won’t change your consciousness. 

In other words, you’ll be entirely awake for your dental procedure—albeit with some much-needed numbing to your teeth and gums. 

How Is Local Anesthesia Administered?

There are many medicines available to accomplish local anesthesia, but the most commonly used is Novacane injection. 

Your dentist may combine novocaine with norepinephrine to constrict the blood vessels and prevent the anesthetic from spreading to other parts of the body. 


3 Tips for Getting Rid of Numbness After a Dental Procedure

The effects of a local anesthetic can last hours, which many people find unpleasant. Additionally, it increases your risk of accidentally biting yourself on the inside of your cheek and causing a wound. 

For these reasons, it’s a good idea to alleviate the numbness that comes with a local anesthetic. Here are three ways to do this: 

Get Rid of Numbness by Massaging the Area

One of the best ways to reduce the effects of a local anesthetic is to increase blood flow to the area. Do this by gently massaging the numb area. 


However, it’s a good idea to avoid touching the actual site of the injection as that increases soreness when the effects of the anesthetic wear off. 

Apply a Warm Compress To Increase Blood Flow

Another way to increase blood flow to the area is by applying heat. The most soothing way to accomplish this is to apply a warm compress for 20 minutes to the numb area. 

Get Blood Circulating by Doing Something Physical

Although we may not all want to do a workout after a dental procedure, it’s an effective way to get your blood circulating. 

Of course, it doesn’t need to be an intense workout. A gentle yoga session will be enough to get your blood flowing. 


What Is Dental Sedation?

You may be sedated through various forms. There are several levels of sedation, categorized as mild, moderate, or deep. 

Oral Sedation

You can either be administered a tablet by your dentist, which you’ll be instructed to take before you show up for your appointment (this is to account for the amount of time it takes medicine to take effect). 

Intravenous Sedation

You may be administered the medication intravenously. 

Sedation With Nitrous Oxide

Lastly, you may be able to inhale it. You might be most familiar with this method, which requires you to inhale nitrous oxide—otherwise known as laughing gas. During this procedure, you’ll be given a mask connected to an apparatus that contains nitrous oxide and asked to breathe it in. It usually takes a few minutes to affect you and lasts as long as the gas continues to flow.

Once your provider stops the gas flow, it takes a few minutes to recover to a somewhat conscious state. You may feel slightly disoriented during this time. 

When Is Sedation Necessary?

It’s necessary to sedate a person if they’re nervous about undergoing their dental procedure. If you’re sedated, you might be fully conscious—albeit slightly relaxed—or completely unconscious—which can even be accompanied by amnesia. 


What Is General Anesthesia?

The last method—reserved for the longest procedures—is general anesthesia. 

If you’re administered general anesthesia, you will be completely asleep for the duration of your procedure. This means that your muscles are completely relaxed, you’ll feel no pain, and you won’t remember the procedure. 

Although this method has risks, it might be necessary during complex dental procedures. In addition, it might be necessary if you are especially nervous and cannot get through your dental procedure otherwise.    


Takeways

The length of time it takes for dental anesthesia to wear off depends on many factors, such as the type of anesthetic you’re getting, how much of it is being administered, and your individual organism. 

While there isn’t much you can do to speed up the effects of sedative and general anesthesia; you can alleviate the numbness of a local anesthetic by increasing blood flow to the area.

Regardless of your dental procedure, it’s important to consult with your dentist on the proper aftercare. At Flossy, we have a network of dental professionals who will guide you from the initial consultation to the end of your dental procedure. 


Sources: 

Alternative Practices of Achieving Anaesthesia for Dental Procedures: A Review | NCBI 

Norepinephrine Prevents the  Adverse Effects of Lidocaine Upon the Heart: An Experimental Study in Isolated Guinea-Pig Hearts | Science Direct

Anesthesia Risks and Assessment | Made for This Moment


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