A trip to the dentist for a routine filling, root canal, or other procedure will likely require a local anesthetic to numb the area and prevent you from feeling pain during your treatment. In most situations, the anesthesia your dentist uses will numb the tooth for 1 to 2 hours. Additionally, the following 3 to 5 hours may leave your lips, face, and tongue numb, which can be frustrating if you’re attempting to return to normal activities immediately following your appointment.
Having patience is the most common way to address the numbness as it will naturally wear away with time; however, these at-home remedies may help!
If no swelling is present, apply a warm compress to help increase blood flow to the affected area. In addition to using a warm compress, try massaging your lips to warm them, and increase blood flow. Avoid touching the treatment area directly, and always wash your hands before and after massaging your lips, mouth, and face.
Ask your dentist if it’s safe to participate in physical activity following your dental procedure. Taking a brisk walk, going for a bike ride, or even tacking a few chores around the house will help to reduce numbness in a natural way. Being active stimulates blood flow in the body, which helps to carry the anesthesia away from the injection site. The encouraging movement will enable your body to break down and metabolize the novocaine that was used during your treatment.
While taking a nap is the opposite of being active, falling asleep can help to get your mind off of the fact that certain areas of your mouth and face are numb. Sit back, relax, and allow the numbing sensation to pass until the sensation wears off peacefully.
Some dental practices use medicine that can reverse the effects of general anesthesia. While this will mean another injection, a second reversal injection can also help to make the numbness dissipate twice as fast as just waiting it out. A reversal injection typically costs $25-$75, and most insurance companies will not cover the injection, due to the fact that it is not medically necessary.
Since different types of dental procedures require different amounts of anesthesia, there is no one-size-fits-all answer for how long your mouth will stay numb after a procedure. Additionally, other factors come into play as to how long the numbing sensation will last, such as your height, weight, and how fast your body is able to metabolize the anesthesia. Where in your mouth you needed work done also comes into play as the bottom jaw is a large nerve block that controls sensations to more areas of your face.
Have patience in allowing the anesthesia to wear off before making a big presentation at work, having a date with a romantic interest, or eating a big meal. You should be feeling like yourself in no-time.
While a local anesthetic following a dental procedure can cause lip numbness for two or three hours, prolonged numbness could indicate a complication. If, after five hours, you’re experiencing persistent numbness following a dental implant, filling, wisdom tooth extraction, or another dental procedure, contact your dentist. A follow-up visit may be necessary as lingering numbness after an oral procedure could indicate nerve damage or an abscess.
Contact Tompkins Dental today if you’d like to hear additional tips for speeding up the return of normal sensation following a dental procedure, or if you have any concerns regarding prolonged numbness.