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Dental Anesthesia

Prolonged pain after dental anesthesia

02/09/2009

Question:

Hello

I was given local anaethesia prior to having a filling replaced. This was 3 weeks ago, and I am still experiencing a throbbing pain on the affected side of my face. I have been taking painkillers regulary, and the pain even wakes me up at night. When the dentist administered the injection at the time, I felt a very sharp pain followed by what I can only describe as an electric shock. 3 days after the event, i mentioned this to my dentist and was told it was nothing to worry about and quite normal. The dentist told me to wait a month before becoming concerned. Is there a possibility that a nerve was damaged during the process? If so, what treatments are available to get rid of this pain? Thank you

Answer:

Thank you for your question. It is not clear that this was a nerve injury. It is possible, but fairly rare, to get nerve injury from dentist injections. Usually the pain is burning or sharp and stabbing in character. Although throbbing is possible, this is a less common presentation.

Also, I do not know the area of the pain. It may very well be related to the tooth, rather than the injection. The sharp pain you felt was the needle contacting the nerve, which means your dentist got the exact perfect right spot for the local anesthetic delivery. This occurs to all dentists and he or she is right that generally, if the nerve was damaged slightly, the pain or numbness goes away in a few weeks or shorter period of time.

You should follow up with your dentist as I am sure he or she would like to evaluate how you are doing and then a more definitive diagnosis can be made.

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Response by:

Steven I Ganzberg, SB, DMD, MS Steven I Ganzberg, SB, DMD, MS
Formerly, Clinical Professor of Dentistry
College of Dentistry
The Ohio State University