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Dental Anesthesia

Urinary Retention in Otherwise Healthy Male



I`m a 30Y/O male in good general health. I stopped smoking after 13 years about a year ago. The problem I have returning I think is a side effect of freezing at the dentist. Out of 3 times, I got retention 3 times. Didn`t really make the connection until the 3rd time. It usually lasts about 8-10 hours. Twice I had to go to emergency it got so bad. Both times they drained between 1700 to 2000ml out of my bladder. Things are always back to normal the following morning. I get the feeling my family doctor doesn`t really believe the whole thing... Had all the tests done cystoscopy, urodynamic testing, ultrasounds, samples... All came back negative. I am worried about it considering my teeth are not that great and my dentist seems to think I have a rootcanal in the making. I`ve been just putting off because of this.

Thank you in advance.


Thank you for your question. In regard to dental local anesthesia, this will not cause urinary retention.


Some drugs with what are called "anticholinergic properties" can cause urinary retention. If you are taking antihistamines or tricyclic antidepressants (such as amitriptyline, nortriptyline etc) then this may contribute to your symptoms. Theoretically, if you were anxious about dental procedures, this may contribute to urinary retention but should subside when the procedure is completed. It is not likely that anxiety alone can cause urinary retention requiring catheterization, but this may be a contributing factor to some other cause.


 If your family physician is unable to identify a cause, then you may need to see an urologist to establish a diagnosis.

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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